Monday, February 02, 2009

Role of Foster Care Youth and Alumni in Child Welfare Training

In what ways are various organizations and agencies inviting the passion and dynamism of foster care youth and alumni to be a part of their child welfare training?

1.) Cby25 stands for "Connected by 25," a community initiative to improve outcomes for foster youth by investing in services and programs.

Their Florida Policy to Practice Academy empowers both current and former foster children:

- Cby25 youth (ages 14-17) serve as co-trainers: They always co-train with a certified Cby25 staff member, and their foster parents usually participate as well. Youth also participate on panels.

- Cby25 alumni (ages 18+) contribute to curriculum: Former foster children work for Cby25's Curriculum Development & Training Department. They continue to train/co-train as needed, while developing new ideas and trainings.

2.) Other organizations allow foster care youth/alumni to co-train child welfare audiences.

These include: EARS, ELEVATE and FosterClub. Workshops are personalized to the extent that the young person uses his/her story to illustrate the preexisting curriculum.

SAYSO allows young people between the ages of 14-23 to co-present with adults/alumni and to help create the actual workshop.

3.) Y.O.U.T.H. stands for "Youth Offering Unique Tangible Help." The initial development team that created their entire curriculum was made up of foster care youth/alumni, ages 16-21.

The YOUTH Training Project is staffed entirely by foster care alumni.

- Youth serve as co-trainers: They always train with one/more staff members, and might also be accompanied by one/more of their peers. Adults provide coaching during rehearsal, assistance with set-up. Adults shadow/assist with the presentation and debrief with the young person afterward.

- Alumni (18+) develop curriculum: Y.O.U.T.H. alumni trainers are trained extensively, and empowered to develop curriculum and lead entire trainings. Each trainer is expected to sign up for at least 5 trainings/year.

Youth and alumni have the opportunity to participate as as panelists and keynote speakers. Y.O.U.T.H. requires young people under the age of 18 to submit their written keynote speeches ahead of time to staff for approval and editing help.

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