Over the years I’ve heard the different opinions regarding on how the Child Welfare system needs to be repaired- how it should be reformed, how it will happen, who should do it etc, etc, etc. Through my professional experience working within the foster care system and from my personal experience living in the foster care system, I have finally arrived at how Child Welfare will TRULY reform….wait for it…..wait for it…wait for it…through THE LEADERSHIP OF ALUMNI OF THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM. What do I mean by leadership? Well, I do not mean simply through Youth Advisory Boards or alumni working only on the front lines as social workers/case managers within foster care; this engagement is needed and is also very important but organizations and agencies working with foster youth need to be led by Alumni from the foster care system who are able to combine their experience living in foster care with their competencies working within child welfare or other related fields.
One of my Alumni Sisters, Dominique, made a great point – “Allies are great, but we need to come together to support each other instead of waiting for others to do so.” After doing research, I found that most organizations that work with foster youth are NOT led by Alumni of the foster care system. It sends an inaccurate message that we do not exist (or that they cannot find us) and that we do not have the skills to lead in positions of authority.