Child Welfare League of America Making Children a National Priority


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Home > Practice Areas > Youth Services & Positive Youth Development > About this Area of Focus


About Youth Services

Promoting Positive Development for America's Youth

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) prioritizes the positive development of youth and young adults in our country, with a special emphasis on those involved with the child welfare system. The Youth Services department is committed to achieving positive outcomes for young people through the design of programming, services, and supports that contribute to these desired outcomes.

These principles guide our work:
  • Young people must have opportunities for full participation in decisions that affect their lives, and supports that facilitate meaningful involvement. This participation is a cornerstone of healthy, positive development.

  • All youth have inherent strengths and potential, regardless of their situations.

  • Our focus is on promoting a youth's development, rather than identifying and fixing his or her problems and challenges.

Current Initiatives

  • National Foster Youth Advisory Council (NFYAC)

    NFYAC is a diverse, national group of current and former foster youth committed to providing a voice and making a difference in the lives of youth in care.

  • Fostering Transitions: CWLA/Lambda Joint Initiative to Support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Adults Involved with the Child Welfare System

    Supported by the Andrus Family Fund, and in collaboration with Lambda Legal, CWLA works to increase the capacity of the child welfare system to deal equitably and constructively with young people, family members, and staff who are LGBTQ.

  • National Advisory Network for LGBTQ Youth Issues

    As an initial step in the CWLA/Lambda joint initiative, we have created a volunteer national advisory network of individuals with special knowledge of or perspectives on issues affecting LGBTQ youth and adults involved in the child welfare system. The advisory network provides guidance and support in carrying out projects and activities designed to facilitate the system-wide changes this partnership aims to initiate.

  • Positive Youth Development & Youth Engagement Training and Technical Assistance

    Grounded in CWLA's Positive Youth Development & Youth Engagement training curriculum, the League provides training and technical assistance to the field around the design and implementation of youth development-focused services for young people involved with the child welfare system, and strategies for engaging young people.

  • Standards for Independent Living, Self-Sufficiency, and Transition Services

    CWLA published the first national standards for independent living services in 1989. With the passage of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 and the many changes that have occurred in the field during the last decade, CWLA initiated the first revision of these standards in 2000. The newly revised standards will be available in the fall of 2004.

  • National Advisory Committee on Youth Development

    Chaired by representatives from CWLA's member agencies, the members of the National Advisory Committee on Youth Development provide guidance and support to youth services staff and share their expertise with the League.

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