Tip Sheet Tuesday: Your Voice Matters – Speaking Out by Speaking Up

This tip sheet is part of our collection of tip sheets specifically for youth. 

Your voice matters and you deserve to be heard. Hopefully your experiences of being in the foster care system were good experiences. But the child welfare system is constantly changing and always needs change. Speaking out and speaking up about foster care and adoption issues are key steps in advocating for changes you want to see. You have the power to make changes in your life and the lives of others.

175783790What is advocacy and how do I do it?
Advocacy is about having the courage to speak out about something that motivates you. Often just in telling your story (through speeches, poems, writing, etc.) you will be a powerful influence to social workers, foster parents, law makers, and others. Doing research and educating others is key to strong advocacy.

Advocating can occur on a local, state or national level. In 2009, three of Wisconsin’s Youth Advisory Council members (YAC) traveled to Washington State and Washington, D.C. to help improve lives of other youth in care. These three young adults have also advocated for child welfare changes at the local and state level, as well. You can choose what is most important to you and which issues you would like to address.

Building Connections
We all need help from others. This is especially true when you are advocating for something you believe in, which is something the YAC members have experienced over the last year. They began their group—with help from staff from child welfare agencies—in January of 2008 and have grown considerably in just a year and a half because they work as a group. Advocating with others is a powerful mechanism to have your voices heard.

Joining together for a common cause can be a rewarding experience, and there is definitely strength in numbers. Following are some suggestions as to how to go about finding others who might have similar beliefs or situations as you. Visit our website to continue reading.

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