FosterClub encourages organizations and programs to develop youth leadership opportunities. But if your program intends to place youth in a position to lead conference events, you should be prepared to answer the following:
- Training. Young people who will share their stories publicly need to be trained in strategic sharing to protect themselves, the agency, caseworkers involved with their case, and the confidentiality of others. It’s also important for young people to receive training in public speaking and to understand how to share their story in a meaningful, non-exploitive way.
- Support. Many young leaders are triggered to recall past events while sharing stories or working with youth. Staff should provide an event debrief and must be prepared to provide follow-up support after the event.
- Content. FosterClub workshops are designed by professional curriculum developers, subject-matter experts and young people. Youth should be provided quality, youth-friendly content to present if effective results are expected.
- Confidentiality and locality. Sometimes local youth discuss their experience in foster care in a way that can be blaming of individual social workers or foster parents, resulting in offending and making local social workers and staff understandably defensive. Utilizing youth who share similar experiences but who have been trained to not blame individuals and who are not connected to local agencies is an effective way of getting the message across without creating a negative atmosphere.
- Boundaries with peers. Young leaders must be provided with training regarding boundaries if they will be working with, mentoring or leading peers. It may also be difficult for young people to honestly share stories among the peers they see on a regular basis at school, in their group home or residential facility, or at meetings.
- Screening & liability. Youth leaders who have supervisory duties over other youth at an event may impact an agency’s insurance requirements regarding volunteers. Agencies may be bound to do proper screening and background checks prior to youth engagement of volunteers and/or paid staff.
- Compensation & logistics. Youth presenters and event facilitators should be fairly compensated for their work. Young people often require special consideration when logistics are arranged (for example, many youth do not have a credit card, often required for hotel check-in).
These considerations, along with many others, are built into the FosterClub All-Star program. When contracting with FosterClub, you can rest assured that these important details have been covered and concentrate on providing the optimum event experience for the young people in your program.
If you are interested in having FosterClub leadership training to a group of youth in your program for preparation to participate in leading an event, consider the All-Star program. Contact FosterClub at 503-717-1552.