Foster Youth Advocate Through Youth-Adult Partnership
Mississippi Youth Voice is a group of young people with foster care experiences who are leading efforts to improve policies and practices for youth in care across the state of Mississippi. With board members ranging in age from 18-26, these young people advocate for themselves and their peers, develop leadership skills and create resources for youth who are either in or transitioning out of foster care. The Annie E. Casey Foundation got the chance to talk with supporter Debra Jenkins-Kearney and Mississippi Youth Voice Coordinator Claire Graves about the impact and importance of youth-adult partnerships in child welfare.
“The group has really been instrumental in facilitating change and creating space for social-service agencies to experience the power of partnering with young people,” says Jenkins-Kearney.
As Mississippi Youth Voice has grown, they’ve created two workgroups to focus on improving mental-health services and access for young people, as well as increasing the number of youth in care who are able to get their driver’s licenses.
“Ideally, we’d like to see Mississippi Youth Voice grow beyond Jackson so that we have other chapters throughout the state, partly so that more young people can have access to this work, but also because different parts of the state have different issues that should be prioritized,” Graves explains.