By CommonAction - The youth engagement specialists  



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Young People in Foster Care

and Social Change



The Freechild Project has found that young people in the foster care system rarely have significant and meaningful opportunities to share their concerns and ideas or make meaningful decisions about the systems that control their lives.  Decision-making opportunities provide young people - particularly those in foster care - with the chance to experience empowerment and to hone those skills today and in the future.


Point on Ponder

Nationwide, about 500,000 young people live in foster care. They are removed from their homes when the courts determine that they’ve been abused or neglected by their parents, or when poverty, death, illness or other circumstances beyond their control prevent their biological parents from properly caring for them. Some older children go into foster care when their families feel they can no longer supervise them. Some young people end up being adopted out of the foster care system, but many others spend months or even years in foster care, often lacking stability in their lives and a sense of home.  Who speaks for these young people?  How about... themselves?  (Adapted from here.)



These organizations and publications have been identified by Freechild as exemplary examples of what foster youths' voice sounds like, and what they could be doing all over the nation.




Youth Communications

Helps teenagers develop their skills in reading, writing, thinking, and reflection, so they can acquire the information they need to make thoughtful choices about their lives.  Much of their work is with foster youth.

The Voices of Youth
The goal of Voices of Youth is to make foster care a more supportive experience for teens so they are better prepared for the transition out of care. Our strategy is to help the staff become more aware of and sensitive to youth needs so they can better meet those needs. Our method is to integrate youth - and their stories - in training, curriculum, planning and agency operations.
California Youth Connection

An advocacy/youth leadership organization for current and former foster youth. We are young people, who because of our experiences with the child welfare system, now work to improve foster care, to educate the public and policy makers about our unique needs and to change the negative stereotypes many people have of us. CYC is a youth-run organization that provides invaluable opportunities to learn leadership skills. 

Congressional Foster Youth Internship Program

Co-sponsored by the Orphan Foundation of America and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, the Congressional Foster Youth Internship Program offers college-age former foster youth an opportunity to participate in legislative action by interning with a congressman for six weeks.  They receive training in several areas including partisanship and workplace etiquette. They attend Congressional briefings on adoption issues and meeting with the White House’s national spokesperson for children in foster care, actor Bruce Willis.


Jonas Penn Youth Involvement Fund

The purpose of this fund is to create meaningful, authentic youth involvement and opportunities for youth who are in or have been involved with Systems of Care.



Provides foster youth between ages 14 and 23 opportunities to become involved, informed and independent in their transitioning journey towards adulthood.




Foster Care Youth United
Foster Care Youth United, which began publication in June, 1993, is a bi-monthly magazine written by and for young people in foster care. It has a paid circulation of 10,000 with subscribers in 46 states. FCYU is designed to give a voice to young people living in the system by providing a forum for an open exchange of views and experiences by those most impacted by foster care.

The Heart Knows Something Better: Teenage Voices from the Foster Care System
The teenaged writers in our pages left their natural families because they were abused or neglected, or because poverty, death, illness, or other circumstances beyond their control prevented their families from properly caring for them. They write about losing loved ones, but also about finding new families in foster care. They describe coming to terms with difficult childhoods, and drawing strength from the past. After reading their stories we know how they feel about living in foster care, about preparing for life beyond it, and, all the while, they give us insights into how the system might possibly be changed for the better.


Mockingbird Society

Produces a newsletter written by foster and homeless youth that is dedicated to improving the safety, quality of life and future of the children and adolescents living in the Washington State foster care/group home system.


Bill of Rights for Children in Foster Care

By the National Foster Parents Association


Florida Statute 39.4085

Legislative findings and declaration of intent for goals for dependent children


Your rights

Created by the National Center for Youth Law


Bill of Rights for Children in Foster Care

By Casey National Center in August 2002



By the Maine Youth Advisory Team


Your Rights in Foster Care

By Lawyers for Children in New York City


South Carolina Foster Child’s Bill of Rights

By GOALL Youth Advisory Council


The Real Deal

By the National Youth in Care Network




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