October 2022Vol. 23, No. 8Division X Technical Assistance: Young Adults Leading Change
Written by the Division X Technical Assistance Team
The COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice, among other challenges, changed the world as we knew it just over 3 years ago. These events challenged families, individuals, and communities across the country, particularly youth and young adults in and transitioning from foster care. In late 2020, Congress passed the Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act (Division X) and resources and flexibilities were granted to states, territories, and tribes to serve those disproportionately affected. In partnership with the Children’s Bureau, the Division X Technical Assistance project has worked over the past year to address current and longstanding challenges, collect lessons learned and innovations, and support states and territories in sharing power and centering the expertise of youth and young adults to ensure successful transitions to adulthood. All we do and have done (including this and a previous article) has been directed and led by young adults with lived and professional experience in child welfare.
Over the past year, we’ve challenged ourselves and the field to meaningfully partner with those with lived experience by sharing power; leading with lived expertise; promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion; and seizing opportunities for innovation to ensure all youth and young adults transition to healthy, productive adults. Together with the Children’s Bureau, the child welfare field, and partners like the Capacity Building Center for States, we are capturing and sharing promising strategies and best practices and modeling inclusion throughout our work. From products and newsletter development (find previous issues of the DX Learning Corner here), dissemination activities, events including “Building Sustainable Change With Youth and Young Adults,” and technical assistance directly to jurisdictions, youth and young adults are leading every step of the way.
One of the hallmarks of this unique opportunity has been the partnership with the Children’s Bureau’s regional offices. Regions have leaned into meaningful partnerships with young leaders and as a result centered their perspectives to serve as an additional technical assistance resource to states, territories, and tribes. The Division X consultants have facilitated state and tribal peer-to-peer conversation, reviewed Annual Program and Services Reports, consulted on programmatic and systemic areas, and developed recommendations on key areas of interest and need, such as pregnant and parenting teens and supports for youth at risk of trafficking as well as ways to enhance equity and access for all youth served by child welfare. The Division X technical assistance team also developed products to share lessons learned and successes that include practical tools and tips, all intended to help organizations begin or continue to work toward better supporting all youth and young adults.
As we move into the last few weeks of this 1-year effort, we are reflecting on the impact that truly shifting the power dynamic has had on us, staff, the client, and customers with whom we have worked. We look forward to sharing the results of a robust evaluation effort, which was developed, executed, and produced by a team with lived expertise, promulgating our lessons learned and demonstrating to the field the impact of partnering with and empowering youth and young adults.
Division X Technical Assistance is funded by the Children’s Bureau to partner with child welfare agencies and enhance their youth engagement programs and initiatives. For more information about the Division X Technical Assistance effort and to access current and forthcoming newsletters, event recordings, and resources and information, visit the Division X Technical Assistance website.