Cindy Barrera, 19
Member, Los Angeles County Chapter
Co-Chair, CYC Statewide Membership Council
Member, CYC Legislative Committee
The moment she walked into her first CYC meeting three years ago, Cindy Barrera says she felt instantly connected. As she listened to CYC members strategizing about passing SB 1060, known as the Sibling Connections bill, Cindy knew she was in the right place.
“I’d always felt like an outsider,” Cindy says, “but when I joined CYC other people understood what I was going through. No one else can really understand your story but for you it’s real life. So when I got to CYC and met all those beautiful people in it, it was just an instant connection.”
Separated at the time from her three siblings who were also in foster care and living in another county, Cindy poured her heart into advocating for the passage of SB 1060, which is now law.
“In CYC, youth have the ability to transform the foster care system,” Cindy says, “and when they transform it, they feel more confident and comfortable living in the system because they know they are part of the decision making. If they don’t like something they speak up, and we work together to transform it.”
Describing herself as extremely shy when she first joined CYC, Cindy now embraces leadership opportunities in all areas of her life. In addition to co-chairing the CYC Statewide Membership Council and serving on the Legislative Committee, Cindy mentors first year students at UEI College in Encino where she is finishing a degree in business administration. She’s also just been hired as a member of CYC’s Youth Training Project, and is looking forward to training child welfare workers in her new role.
Cindy plans to go on to a four-year university, and eventually become a social worker and advocate, a career path her time in CYC is preparing her for very well.
“When you hear ‘youth led’ it really means members are holding high positions that you don’t see in other organizations,” Cindy says. “Having members on the Statewide Membership Council and the Board of Directors, CYC sets you up for success and prepares you for other leadership roles in your career. CYC can inspire youth to do more, to do something they’ve never before seen themselves doing.”