Youth Engagement Project

NEWS - CFPIC YEP Ambassadors Lauren Mendez and Sophia Joffe testify before California Senate

February 13, 2024 – Lauren Mendez and Sophia Jeffe, both Youth Ambassadors from the CFPIC’s Youth Engagement Project, testified in front of the California Senate Human Services Committee about their experiences in the child welfare system and why a Kin-First Culture is so important. They showed courage and resilience as they discussed the need for improved oversight and structure within the system, as well as greater engagement with potential relatives. Not only was the impact of their experiences and wisdom felt in the moment, but will hopefully influence child welfare system improvement in the years to come. Thank you, Sophia and Lauren, for leading change in California!

What is YEP?

The Youth Engagement Project (YEP) is a partnership between CFPIC and the California Department of Social Services to improve child welfare policies, programs and practices by building capacity for youth engagement at the state and local level.

YEP provides funding and support to counties to engage current or former foster youth on local projects designed to strengthen child welfare systems. These youth, called YEP Ambassadors, can engage with county coordinators in a variety of ways.

To learn more about how the YEP program provides opportunities to strengthen youth engagement, view our new video HERE.

Introducing our 2023-2024 Youth Ambassadors!

To see an example of YEP in action, click HERE to learn how the County of San Luis Obispo celebrated National Foster Care Month by sharing stories from their Youth Ambassadors.”

The 2023-24 Impact of YEP in Counties

Through the wisdom and expertise cultivated by lived experience, our current Youth Ambassadors are working closely with their local county partners to guide and improve policies, supports, and resources for the youth involved in the foster care system.  Here are some of the 2023-24 projects in the YEP counties:

  • The creation of mental health brochures for various age groups that provide resources for youth in care.
  • The review and input into county policies that directly impact youth in care.
  • Independent Living Skills events for youth in care in multiple counties.
  • An improved website for current and former foster youth, including a communication hub.
  • Monthly articles in a countywide newsletter on various youth-informed topics.
  • A resource guide for youth who speak English as a second language.
  • The ongoing recruitment of specialized resource homes for teens.
  • Human Trafficking education and outreach materials.
  • Participation on a cross-sector SOGIE panel.

Future YEP Impact Projects…What’s in the works!

Youth Ambassadors and their county partners are strategizing for future county projects, such as:

  • The process for youth to provide input into the Request for Proposal (RFP) selection process, specifically for services that serve youth in care.
  • The creation of a foster youth advisory board.
  • Training both newly hired social workers and resource parents regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Focus groups to better understand barriers to participation in independent living skills training.
  • Training resource parents and newly hired social workers on the importance of sibling connections.
  • Participation in local Interagency Leadership Teams via AB2083.
  • Guiding Family Finding processes.
  • Increasing high school graduation and college enrollment for foster youth.

The 2023-24 Impact of YEP at the State level

This year, our Youth Ambassadors are providing consultation and technical assistance in statewide planning and policy development.  Here are some examples of the potential state-wide impact of our Ambassadors:

  • Consultation into the Annual Prevention Convening
  • Consultation into the CANS/CFT Steering Committee
  • Consultation to the National Youth Transition Database (NYTD) workgroup (upcoming)
  • Consultation into the CWDA TAY Subcommittee (upcoming)
  • Consultation into CDSS’ Emergency Response workgroup (upcoming)
  • Participation on the Education Task Force
  • Participation for Quality Parenting Initiative survey

Our quarterly YEP Newsletter is available now. A New Year includes a spotlight on our Riverside Youth
Ambassador, county project updates and information on professional development opportunities.

Contact Us!

The Youth Engagement Project at CFPIC currently partners with multiple counties in California to provide funding and program support to expand youth voice in child welfare systems. If you are interested in more information about YEP, please contact Margo Fudge at margo.fudge@cfpic.org.

If you’d like to request a youth ambassador to participate at your meeting or event, email yep@cfpic.org.