By Brittani Carlton, Intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates

Thousands of young adults exit foster care, often without the preparation or support they need to succeed in adulthood. With limited resources and services, their paths can lead to homelessness, more trauma, and economic disadvantage. It is imperative to listen to the voices who have endured these experiences and traumas in order to provide advocacy that is relevant to the needs of the individuals in and aging out of the foster care system. 

Journey to Success is a federal policy advocacy campaign that seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals in foster care and ones who have already exited. Along with the Partnership for America’s Children and other state-based campaign partners across the country, Kentucky Youth Advocates and True Up are leading a project to build advocacy momentum in Kentucky for the Journey to Success federal policy reform campaign.

The Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood, enacted in 1999, supports transition-age young people by providing funding for a wide array of services like education, housing, and employment assistance. However, gaps in implementation and outcomes continue to exist. The Journey to Success recommendations seek to build on the current policy and address the shortcomings and needs that still exist to improve the lives of current and former foster youth. 

A team of young adults with lived experience in the foster care system is leading this effort in Kentucky. Over the past several months, the young adult team has led a Journey to Success Stakeholder Workgroup composed of former foster youth, professionals within the child welfare system, and advocates from across the state that have come together to discuss and address the current needs of foster youth. They will also be helping to launch a social media campaign and meet with Kentucky’s federal delegation to raise awareness of issues facing current and former foster youth.

In Kentucky, partners on the Journey to Success campaign will focus on the following recommendations:

  1. Make targeted, ongoing support available to youth and young adults up to age 26 to help them complete their education and workforce training, secure safe and stable housing, heal from trauma, achieve lifelong family permanence, become economically secure, and have a strong foundation on which to build their future.
  2. Ensure that each young person is well-supported in their transition from adolescence to adulthood and that agencies are appropriately resourced to provide this support.
  3. Ensure young people with lived expertise in foster care have mechanisms available to them to help hold systems accountable, such as having opportunities to provide ongoing feedback and being part of decision-making at the individual and system levels.

We can and should do better by our current and former foster youth. Getting there will require a greater program capacity, federal funding, and a stronger approach to services. 

Journey to Success sponsors The Storyboard Project, a documentary web series that seeks to inspire action by featuring the foster care journeys of youth and young adults from across the country. Watch as True Up Peer Network Member, Eltuan, shares his foster care journey and advocacy efforts to improve the child welfare system.

Check out the recently launched Journey to Success Kentucky fact sheet (below) to learn more about the project and the specific policy recommendations being lifted up. Join the campaign by raising awareness through your social media pages with this helpful social media toolkit.

This post is part of the blog series, Intern Insights