Chelsea Faver is being honored as a Champion of Change for Foster Care
Removal from home, no matter the length of time, can be a traumatic experience for any child or youth. Relationships are broken, families can become permanently torn apart, and it can feel like every piece of normalcy is completely ripped away. Fortunately, foster care can also bring many positive opportunities. My time in care afforded me the opportunity to take control of my life. I was placed in a group home with supportive staff who motivated me to finish high school early and begin college. After transitioning from care, I graduated from Indiana University, fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a Marine, and began law school.
While I did encounter many obstacles that youth around the country face as they enter into and transition out of care, the supportive network I gained through Indiana’s child welfare system pushed me over each and every hurdle I faced, both while in care and even long after care. I was extremely fortunate to find this strong network of support, but many youth do not have this same experience. While in care, I witnessed the struggles of many of my peers who were not able to overcome the overwhelming odds facing foster youth. These experiences are what motivated me to use my voice to advocate for youth currently and formerly in foster care and play an active role in the national dialogue on improving outcomes for what is often a forgotten population.
As a nation, we have made great strides in identifying best policies and practices for our youth. Permanency, a word I never heard while in care, is becoming a high priority. There has been an exciting emphasis placed on finding permanent connections for each and every youth who enters into the child welfare system. Additionally, many states have been implementing extended foster care which, among many things, helps youth maintain stability as they emerge as a young adult pursuing higher education or entering the workforce. The National Youth in Transition Database is now collecting data on our young people as they transition into adulthood and is providing a new way to better understand the services provided to youth and how they are really doing in response to these services. These are just a few of some of the exciting results and initiatives that can happen when we focus on the overall well-being and support of one of our most vulnerable populations.
The success and well-being of our youth hinge on much more than physical safety. My hope is that every state will continue developing cutting edge, innovative services meant to support youth currently and formerly in care. Additionally, supportive infrastructures for our youth can be created through cross system collaboration in partnership with authentic youth voice and engagement, giving every child that comes in contact with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems a better chance for success. Infrastructures built through collaboration between systems, agencies, and even states are key to ensuring that every child in the system takes foster care to the next level and allow all of us to invest in our youth through time, support, understanding, and advocacy. Now is the time to make sure that each and every child in the system has equal access to these supportive services.
Chelsea Faver currently serves as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps while also pursuing her Juris Doctor. She is a graduate of Indiana University and a student at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.