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connect / 2016

Foster Youth and Families: Joining Voices for Change

Foster Youth and Families: Joining Voices for Change

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by National Foster Youth Institute

NFYI is building a social movement in LA, led by foster youth and their families, to transform the child welfare system so it WORKS!

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Community Coalition

Please describe your project proposal.

The foster care system needs to change. Families need support to care for their children, and children need to know that they are safe and loved no matter where they live. The people who know what needs to change are the ones who know the system best. NFYI/LA will recruit and train 100 foster youth and 50 family members to advocate with policy makers for new approaches to transform the child welfare system.

Which of the connect metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Social & emotional support
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to connect?

One of the youth in our LA Leadership Corps told us what a difference it would have made to her life if she had known that there were places where she could connect with other foster youth and organizations that were working to make things better for young people like her. There are 30,000 foster youth in this extended “village” we call LA County, and thousands more relatives and foster parents who want to see these vulnerable children fulfill their promise. By bringing them together and showing them how their experiences can inspire reform, NFYI helps connect the voices of the foster care community with those who need to hear them.
We CONNECT youth, families, policy makers and the general public in a variety of ways: The LA Leadership Corps: Foster youth and alumni, ages 18 and beyond, and their relatives, foster families and community allies learn how to organize for change by doing the hands-on work of becoming recruiters, trainers and organizers themselves. Shadow Days: Foster youth spend the day with local, State or federal officials to share their experiences and make policy recommendations. Listening Tours and Dinners for Elected Officials: Foster youth and families, policy experts and elected officials gather to learn about a particular issue together, getting a first-hand look at the problem and possible solutions. Other Organizations Who Share Our Goals: NFYI is part of a network of organizations that work together for change. By collaborating with others such as the Community Coalition who work with the grandparents and other relatives of foster youth, we can reach out to more people and avoid duplication of effort. Building relationships and identifying shared values and goals is the foundation of our work. By building on this foundation to create a massive grassroots movement for change, we can make LA County a model of how to transform our country’s child welfare system.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Success will be measured by meeting our goals for Leadership Corps recruitment and engagement. In addition, success will be measured by the extent to which the Leadership Corps is able to contribute toward the implementation of policy reforms. For example, the LA County Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection recommended many areas of reform, but currently there is no sustained outside pressure to push for implementation of those reforms. Homelessness is a big issue for foster youth, and NFYI is bringing their voices to the Los Angeles City Council to make sure they include foster youth in their plans to address homelessness in LA. On the State level, several positive policies have been signed by Governor Brown, but have not been implemented. NFYI organizers and activists will organize campaigns in Los Angeles County to push for implementation of a variety of positive policies that are already on the books. Additional funds will also enable NFYI to establish a consulting contract to track project progress and assess overall program effectiveness.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research