National Foster Youth Voice Month (NFYVM), created by the Selfless Love Foundation, recognizes that the voices of young people with foster care experience matter. Celebrated each October, NFYVM aims to elevate such voices to spark change across the nation.
The Office of the Child’s Representative (OCR) enthusiastically answered the Selfless Love Foundation’s call for Colorado stakeholders to celebrate this year, as we feel a particular connection with NFYVM’s mission. OCR provides attorney services to children and youth in over ten case types throughout Colorado. Many of the children/youth represented by OCR attorneys are in foster care or at risk of entering foster care. OCR’s 270+ attorneys advocate tirelessly on behalf of youth clients to give them a voice in legal proceedings. OCR’s Lived Experts Action Panel (LEAP) is integral to OCR’s efforts to elevate youth voice. LEAP is a group of young people with systems experience who partner with OCR to create and improve laws, policies, and OCR attorney practice in ways that benefit children and youth.
During NFYVM, we encourage Colorado Stakeholders to join us in learning directly from young people by using the following strategies, tools, and resources created by LEAP.
Implement the child and youth rights provided by HB22-1038. This groundbreaking law made children parties to their D&N proceedings, provided children the right to attend and fully participate in their D&N hearings, and gave children aged 12 and older client-directed Counsel for Youth (CFY) instead of a best-interests guardian ad litem (GAL).
- Amplifying Youth Voice Through Counsel for Youth (podcast)
- Client-directed Legal Representation for Youth: Early Lessons and Youth Perspective (2023 webinar)
- From Theory to Practice: The Rights of Colorado Children/Youth to Attend and Fully Participate in their D&N Hearings (2023 webinar)
Learn about and implement changes important to young people with systems experience.
- Increasing Access to Opportunities for Young People in Care (webinar and tools)
- Nine Things LEAP Wants GALs, CFY, and Judicial Officers to Know About Juvenile Delinquency Adjudications and Sentences
- Raising Our Voices: Recommendations for Policy Makers to Support Well-Being for Children and Youth in Foster Care (containing recommendations of Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Intern and LEAP Member Nyomi Davis)
Engage and empower youth with systems experience.
Additional tools and resources are available on OCR’s Resources for Professionals.