On August 1, 2019, the Children’s Bureau issued an Information Memorandum (IM) to “demonstrate that family and youth voice are critical to a well-functioning child welfare system and to strongly encourage all public child welfare agencies, dependency courts, and Court Improvement Programs to work together to ensure that family and youth voice are central in child welfare program planning and improvement efforts.”

The Information Memorandum outlines areas of existing law that require the agency to engage families and youth in decision making, but it also recommends additional ways that agencies can work with families and youth. For example, the IM encourages agencies to regularly meet and listen to families.

“Leaders in child welfare from agencies, courts, advocacy groups and others should regularly meet with families and youth; visit children and youth, and caregivers; attend court; and listen to child welfare professionals about family and youth service needs. Hiring family members and youth
with lived experience into leadership positions at the agency, county, and state level is an
important way to ensure a representative voice in every aspect of the child welfare system. If there are not formal processes or structures for families and youth to provide input and feedback at various levels of the child welfare system, creating those forums should be a priority.”

See the full Information Memorandum (ACYF-CB-IM-19-03) for more details.  You may want to bring a copy to your next meeting with child welfare agency representatives.

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