Youth Empowerment Initiative - DCFS

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Your Voice Matters
Program Description:
The Youth Empowerment Initiative grew out of the Court Family Conference Initiative undertaken by the Court Culture Child Protection Team (CCCP Team) in Cook County- a diverse committee of the Court that includes state's attorneys, public defenders, guardians ad litem, judges, private agency social workers, public agency social workers, former parents and youth in the child welfare system. The Youth Empowerment Initiative purpose is to empower youth in their relationship with Juvenile Court Child Protection Division. This is being accomplished through "Your Voice Matters" sessions that are being held throughout Cook County with youth who are in care, child welfare professionals and foster parents. These sessions focus on helping prepare youth to feel comfortable in participating in the court process; doing outreach to youth to learn about barriers and challenges that they face in terms of their involvement in the court process; educating the judiciary and attorneys in the court about the critical role that young people can and should play in the court process and how the court can create an atmosphere that invites youth participation; involving youth in informing systems change efforts; and guiding changes to court policy as appropriate to encourage the involvement of youth.
Court Visit Checklist
Program Goals:
The Youth Empowerment Initiative is focused around three overarching goals:
  1. to enable young people to give critical input around needed services and court decision-making for themselves and their families;
  2. to help youth involved in the system develop the skills needed to advocate on their own behalf and see themselves as having the power to create positive change in their own lives;
  3. to provide an opportunity for young people to inform systems change to improve the Court's capacity to be responsive to the children and families its serves.
For more information about the Youth Empowerment Initiative: Your Voice Matters
Gailyn Thomas
Project Director

Last Updated: August 23, 2010