Ensuring that children and youth in care are engaged authentically, particularly in relation to permanency, requires a paradigm shift in how the child welfare system understands children and youth and views their involvement in decision-making. Children and youth need to be seen as competent, knowledgeable experts who are partners in decisions about their lives, especially those related to legal, cultural and relational permanency.
The QIC-EY will address changes necessary at both the systemic and workforce levels to support a vital shift in philosophy and practice nationwide by doing the following:
- Produce a training and coaching model that can be used to shift mindset, practice and culture of the child welfare workforce and courts. Once piloted and evaluated, the new training and coaching model will become a free resource available across the nation.
- Implement and evaluate models for engaging children and youth in decision-making. Lessons learned will be disseminated nationally to inform practice, policies and laws regarding how child welfare systems engage children and youth, especially in respect to permanency.
- Work with sites (states, counties, tribal nations and territories) to make systemic changes aimed at transforming system culture; increasing knowledge, attitude and skills; and developing infrastructure to ensure that authentic youth engagement is included in all aspects of a child welfare system.
To accomplish its goals, the QIC-EY will partner with six to eight pilot sites (states, counties, tribal nations and territories). These sites will be selected during the first year of the initiative. They will receive support and resources from the QIC to implement a youth engagement model, a training and coaching model for the child welfare workforce and a training on youth engagement for courts. They also will receive QIC support and resources to make systemic changes in how they authentically engage children and youth. The information gained from these pilot sites will help to transform how children and youth are engaged authentically in child welfare systems throughout the nation.