HRC’s All Children - All Families (ACAF) project works with foster care and adoption agencies across the U.S. to help them better serve LGBTQ youth and families. One challenge many agencies face is finding affirming, permanent families for older LGBTQ youth in foster care. That is why we’re hosting a new webinar, “The Role of Youth Advocates in Developing Affirming Families for LGBTQ Youth,” on Wednesday, October 25 at 1 p.m. ET. We’ll be showcasing New York City adoption agency, You Gotta Believe and its innovative model for engaging youth advocates in finding families for LGBTQ youth in care.
Yaridania Betancourt, a team member of You Gotta Believe and an alumnus of New York City’s foster care system, explains what it’s like to be a youth in care and the crucial role foster care alumni can play in advocating for LGBTQ youth.
What would your life be like without family? Imagine that one day, while in the comfort of your home, you suddenly here a knock on your door; It is someone you do not know and they are there to take you away. You have no say or choice in the matter. Something has occurred and you must leave, leaving behind your belongings, your home, your neighborhood, your school, your friends, community, culture and your family.
Imagine arriving to an unknown place, where you will now live for an undisclosed amount of time. It is not explained to you why this is happening or when you will be able to return to your family.
More likely than not, you would be feeling many intense emotions--sadness, fear, anger, uncertainty, loss, loneliness, hopeless.
For many children in the foster care system this is the scenario when entering care. It is a traumatic and painful experience that is amplified by the number of placements and amount of time many children remain in care - all the while yearning to be home - to be with family.
Foster youth benefit from the support of someone who has walked in similar shoes, through the same system, who can truly understand this experience and advocate. Alumni of foster care know not only the need to survive all the external hardships, but also the internal turmoil that many young people experience while in care. This firsthand knowledge is an asset when helping children in care cope with their losses, pain and day-to-day struggles and to envision themselves as thriving adults.
At You Gotta Believe (YGB), our Alumni Advocates have survived the foster care system and are now thriving; specifically because of the opportunity to have connections to caring, permanent adults who have unconditionally supported them through their journey. YGB believes every child in care deserves this same opportunity.
This upcoming webinar is perfect for child welfare professionals and foster care advocates working to effectively engage foster care alumni in finding families for LGBTQ youth. Please share this Facebook post about the webinar today. You can also check out the full series of webinars offered free of charge throughout 2017 and their recordings are available on demand in our webinar archive.