Best of Youth Voices Rising, 2023

This year, the Youth Voices Rising team at Fostering Media Connections was proud to work with dozens of current and former foster youth with child welfare, homelessness and juvenile justice experience to share their stories in writing and at online events. 

As 2023 comes to an end, here is a collection of some of our top Youth Voices Rising pieces from the year.  

Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Indian Child Welfare Act Means Native Foster Youth Stay Protected
by Jacqueline Robles

In a stunning 7-2 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act this year, preserving a law that was passed decades ago to prevent the separation of Native American children from their families and tribes. 

Jacqueline Robles reflected on the law, commonly known as ICWA, sharing her views on it in general and how it impacted her own case as a young person who experienced foster care in California. 

We are all People of the Harvest
by Lino Peña-Martinez

Wherever foster youth come from, Peña-Martinez writes in this powerful message to fellow foster youth, our collective stories matter. “Our time, efforts, and energy are precious, and we must continue to reap what we sow. So let’s continue to build this movement and create systems that reflect the diversity and complexity of our people.”

CPS Enforces Surveillance Rather Than Well-Being
by Joel Swazo

Swazo’s stepdad should have been able to care for him and his sisters, but the system put up barriers instead of helping to make that happen, he writes. He believes the system relies too much on surveilling families and makes it too difficult to reunite after foster care. 

It is Time to Prioritize Young People’s Mental Health
by Amal Kharoufi

With hundreds of millions of dollars headed out to states to address the mental health of youth, Kharoufi writes that young people should be at the table to decide how best to spend it. 

Later, Kharoufi joined Fostering Media Connections for “Mental Health at the Crossroads,” a conversation about how the lack of community mental health options in New York impacted the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems. 


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