December 2013Vol. 14, No. 9Young Adult Training &Technical Assistance Network
By Guadalupe Tovar, Program Development Specialist, and Clay Finck, Program Director, National Resource Center for Youth Development
Although the youth voice and perspective have become more valued in child welfare, jurisdictions often lack a formalized mechanism for regular input from youth. The National Resource Center for Youth Development's (NRCYD's) Young Adult Training and Technical Assistance (YATTA) Network supports a partnership with young people to improve State and Tribal child welfare services. The YATTA Network is composed of over 90 young people, ages 18–24, who have had varying experiences as consumers of child welfare services and are engaged at different levels within the system to discuss programming and policy impacting youth in care.
One of NRCYD's four core principles is youth development. We believe in a process that prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences that help them become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent. YATTA is one component of our work to meet this goal.
The network is composed of former NRCYD interns, Outstanding Young Leaders, former FosterClub All-Stars, and current and former youth in care with extensive leadership experience. The network uses social media to facilitate communication among youth members, NRCYD staff, and other members of the Children's Bureau's T&TA Network. During regular member-specific webinars, members learn about and discuss issues facing State and Tribal child welfare systems, become oriented to the work of NRCYD, develop consultant skills, and learn about NRCYD's projects in which they may elect to participate. Network members are compensated for their work.
NRCYD's primary stakeholders are the Independent Living Coordinators of each State and jurisdiction and, through them, the young people and families served in each State. In addition to our primary stakeholders, the YATTA Network has collaborated with the following organizations on a variety of opportunities:
- Children's Bureau
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
- Foster Care Alumni of America
- Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
- Center for the Study of Social Policy
For the Children's Bureau, the YATTA Network provides a new way to hear and respond to the needs of the approximately 400,000 children and youth in foster care. For members, the network offers a cathartic opportunity to use their foster care experience to educate and impact systems.
The YATTA Network has participated in a variety of projects, including contributing to the following publications:
- Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care
- Helping Youth Transition to Adulthood: Guidance for Foster Parents
- Enhancing Permanency for Youth in Out-Of-Home Care
- Supporting Your LGBTQ Youth: A Guide for Foster Parents
Our members also have contributed to the following national campaigns:
We have co-facilitated meetings, advised on technical workgroups, and conducted site visits on federally funded projects, including the following:
For more information on YATTA, its services, and how youth can become members, contact Guadalupe Tovar, NRCYD Program Development Specialist, at email@example.com, or Clay Finck, NRCYD Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.