Lived experience is defined as personal knowledge about the world gained through direct, first-hand involvement in everyday events rather than through representations constructed by other people.
A person with lived experience in the child welfare system – parents, children and youth, resource families. formal and informal caregivers, guardians and adoptive parents – is someone who has lived (or is currently living) with the impacts of the system.
Those with lived experience may have insight to offer about the child welfare/probation system as it is experienced by the “consumer” – for example, a youth who experienced failed placements or a family that has completed the Resource Family Approval process can offer insights into those experiences. Those with lived experience have awareness of what works, what doesn’t work, and what resources (formal and informal) are available in the community.
Organizations that incorporate community members with lived experience are better equipped to make their services more focused, efficient, integrated, culturally appropriate, and sustainable. As well, policy analysis and reform discussions benefit from valuing, uplifting and engaging lived experience voice in those conversations as public policy is developed, debated and implemented.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights is seeking input from parents, caregivers and youth on how best systems and advocates can best engage those with lived experience in policy conversations. If you have lived experience in the child welfare/probation system as a parent, resource family, informal kinship caregiver or youth in foster care, we welcome your participation in a brief nine question survey. The information gathered will be shared with local and state government agencies and with advocacy groups.
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