CWLA is thrilled to join thousands of organizations across the globe participating in the largest Giving Day of the Year! We’re aiming to raise $20,000 in just 24 hours and need your help to get the job done! Donations will be used to give youth, parents, and caregivers impacted by child welfare a voice at our national conference and a chance to serve on vital working committees, i.e., racial equity, mental health, kinship/foster care, and more. Research already affirms that their experience, wisdom, and talent will help to bolster child welfare policy, practice, and research.


–Robyn Robbins

–Norma Hatfield

–Chloe Miller

Mark your calendar, Giving Tuesday is November 29.

Spread the word!

Help us reach our fundraising goal by being as generous as you can. We know the last few years have been tough. But please know that we’re very grateful for every donation, whatever the amount. Because at CWLA, every dollar makes a difference!


“My name is Heather Johnson, and I’m a social worker and mental health clinician in California. I work for my county behavioral health department helping folks with serious mental illness, and at home I live with and mentor foster youth in a transitional housing program. I have the privilege of serving on CWLA’s Mental Health Advisory Board. I’m also a former foster youth and group home kid. I say that with pride now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

In my senior year of college, I attended a career fair and stopped by the booth of the agency that ran one of my former group homes. I shared that I had been a resident, imagining they would be excited to see one of their alumni. Instead, they told me in shocked tones that I should never tell a prospective employer that I had been in their home – not because it would reflect badly on them, but because it would ruin my career prospects.

I took their advice and kept my experiences in foster care a secret. It wasn’t until more recently that my perception changed – and the people who changed it were today’s foster youth who were participating in a program that supports them in advocating for change in the child welfare system. It was through meeting and learning from these young people that I began to see my experience in foster care as a source of strength and pride – and their passion led me back to graduate school and the work I do today.

I learned from those foster youth that our lived experience is valuable not only to understand the child welfare system from the inside out but also engendered strengths and skills that enable us to be catalysts of change. Educator Arleen Lorrance admonished us to be the change we want to see in the world – and no one embodies this more dramatically than former foster kids, birth parents, and others who use their lived experience to advocate for and implement change in the child welfare system.

Today I’m changing the world one youth, one client, one policy at a time. But I can’t do it alone. None of us can do this alone. In this season of gratitude, I’m thankful for everyone who’s walked with me along my journey. And I encourage you to join us – to donate, to volunteer, to advocate – in creating opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders to learn and grow.”

–Heather Johnson, Lived Expert

“It is important for individuals who have lived expertise with child welfare to have a seat at the table.  The voice and perspectives of these individuals are critical to advocacy, decision-making, service planning, and program development. Organizations that incorporate individuals with lived expertise are better equipped to ensure services are more easily accessible, culturally responsive, stigma free, effective, and sustainable.”

–Terrell Thomas, MSW (leader with lived expertise)
Strategic Initiative Officer, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families


“Hi, my name is Antonia Rios, Parent Partner Manager with Parents Anonymous®. I am a mother of 7, grandmother of 4 and a kin provider. I am a Native American Latina who is also a former foster youth and group home and child welfare survivor. It is vital that those with lived expertise not only from child welfare have a seat at the table but be treated like real people. We are the experts of our lives and can bring sustainable, effective, and culturally responsive service delivery, and provide a bias, non-judgmental, classes-free space.

I have to say by giving us, those with lived expertise a seat, you are changing the world in a greater way that will ensure success for personal growth and empowerment within those homes. Parents Anonymous® walks alongside every parent to support Parenting, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and that has ensured child safety. I am a prime example of this and know that you can do the same by joining us today, creating an amazing opportunity for unseen leaders for a great tomorrow.”

–Antonia Rios, Lived Expert in
Every Adverse Childhood Experience & Adult Trauma  


“Engaging families throughout our work makes differences that matter.  Family insights and experiences can best inform decisions about care, program design, quality assurance, and policy approaches to serving the needs of children, youth, and families.  More than 30 years of research has shown the positive outcomes achieved when families are engaged!”

–Pat Hunt, Parent with Lived Expertise and Executive Director of FREDLA