Letting kids be kids": Youth voice and activism to reform foster care and promote "normalcy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this chapter, I examine stories that foster care youth tell to legislatures, courts, policymakers, and the public to influence policy decisions. The stories told by these children are analogized to victim truth testimony, analyzed as a therapeutic, procedural, and developmental process, and examined as a catalyst for systemic accountability and change. Youth stories take different forms and appear in different media: Testimony in legislatures, courts, research surveys or studies; opinion editorials and interviews in newspapers or blog posts; digital stories on YouTube; and artistic expression. Lawyers often serve as conduits for youth storytelling, translating their clients' stories to the public. Organized advocacy by youth also informs and animates policy development. One recent example fosters youth organizing to promote "normalcy" in child welfare practices in Florida, and in related federal legislation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-183
Number of pages63
JournalStudies in Law Politics and Society
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Child welfare
  • Foster care
  • Normalcy
  • Storytelling
  • Youth voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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