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Youth Development & Leadership

CYC's Youth Leadership

We believe that leadership is something that must be practiced to be mastered. Youth leadership is embedded in CYC’s mission by empowering foster youth to engage in policy advocacy through skill and relationship building. CYC provides many opportunities for youth to develop their own leadership styles through one on one support and mentoring, specialized training, and unique leadership development opportunities. Members are given numerous opportunities to utilize their skills when speaking directly to decision makers and stakeholders and participating in media interviews to help educate the community on issues important to foster youth.

Some examples of youth leadership opportunities for CYC members include: chairing and participating on our Youth Advisory Board and Legislative Committee, youth running their own chapter meetings, chapters hosting our annual statewide conferences, members facilitating workshops and trainings, and youth participating in internship opportunities.
The foundation of CYC’s work is the work of our county-based youth chapters. Chapters are led by youth members and supported by CYC’s adult supporters/volunteers. Each chapter determines their leadership structure (chair, rotating facilitator, president/vice president). The chapter leaders prepare agendas, facilitate meetings, and support the work of other members. Chapter leaders receive leadership training throughout the year, through 1-on-1 coaching by other youth, staff and adult supporters; regional trainings offered by staff to chapters; and workshops at our annual conferences.

The CYC Legislative Committee is the body that oversees the direction of CYC sponsored legislation and is responsible for reviewing and taking positions on current legislation that affects current and former foster youth. The Legislative Committee is made up of 8 members elected by their CYC peers to represent regions of the state. Throughout the year the Legislative Committee Representatives become experts in policy advocacy and are trained in the legislative process, public speaking, policy advocacy, and meeting with decision makers. To learn more, please click here.

The Advisory Board (AB) is composed of youth members who provide oversight of the program structures such as conference organization, new chapter development, and current chapter activities. Additionally, the AB maintains a strong relationship with the Board of Directors, providing input and recommendations. Each chapter selects a primary and alternate member to represent them at the AB. Representatives meet on a quarterly basis, and serve a one-year term. 

CYC, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Child Welfare Directors’ Association (CWDA), Co-Investment Partnership, California Connected by 25-Initiative, Stuart Foundation and the Walter S Johnson Foundation believe that youth voice is critical to improving child welfare - not just youth presenting to policy makers, but as part of the decision-making process.

To ensure that youth continue to be a part of the process, CYC and these partners have developed a State Youth Council to provide an opportunity for ongoing youth input into child welfare policy and practice change embedded in CDSS and CWDA work. Youth Council Members will be trained in the process of policy and practice implementation, public speaking and other leadership skills. Additionally, members will participate in an ongoing and substantive way, partnering with state and local child welfare policy makers to ensure youth voice is the foundation of policy and practice implementation across the state.

CYC believes in providing our members with a variety of ways to be involved with the external and internal happenings of the organization. Each year, CYC offers internships at our statewide offices for current and former foster youth. The internships provide youth with another opportunity to become engaged with their foster care community, policy makers and community stakeholders. To learn more about our internship opportunities, please click here.

* CYC is a registered 501c3. All donations made to CYC are tax deductible.
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