For Child-Serving Professionals

Youth Advocacy and Child-Serving Professionals

When children are placed in the foster care system, a myriad of professionals circulate in and out of their lives.  Caseworkers from counties, private providers and independent living services, judges, lawyers, child advocates, therapists, and other service providers have varying levels of responsibility for assuring a child’s safety, permanency and well-being.  

Child-serving professionals can sometimes become jaded to the needs of older youth, feel limited in their potential to impact a child, or are hindered by the system itself.  By the same token, one person who listens longer, tries differently, or challenges boundaries can have the greatest influence on a child’s outcome.  

Family Design Resources’ youth advocate shares her story to impact adults whose decisions affect older youth.


“Michelle’s Story:  Permanency Support for Older Youth” is a one-hour youth presentation for professionals, resource families or other audiences who work to achieve permanency for older youth.  Using her experiences as a backdrop, Michelle provides information on the value of permanency planning for older youth, even if adoption isn’t the result. This presentation will challenge professionals, and accepted thinking with regard to older youth at risk of aging out of care. 

Participants will be able to:
•    Compare and contrast Michelle’s story with best practices. 
•    Describe three ways to engage youth in their individual permanency plan.
•    Identify current benefits for youth who remain in care until age 21.
•    Define a “Permanency Pact.”

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Youth voice and engagement helps adults fully understand and appreciate how social service programs and services are experienced by youth recipients and helps youth to represent their own interests.  Michelle is committed to giving voice to the needs of those youth who are still in foster care and bring their concerns to the attention of those who are in a position to create change.  

Michelle is available to meet with professionals in child-serving systems to offer her perspective as a former foster youth on the needs of foster youth and responses to those needs.  Michelle works with the Pennsylvania Independent Living Youth Advocate Board through the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, has visited multiple children and youth agencies, and currently serves on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts Summit Planning Committee.