At The Imprint, we find it vital to make space in the media narrative for youth and young adults with lived experience in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. As it turns out, our readers like to hear from them just as much as we like to uplift their voices. Our Youth Voice articles are regularly our most shared stories on social media, consistently sparking important conversations among our audience of child welfare professionals and lawmakers.
In this standout submission from our first-ever writing contest, former foster youth Anna Judson waxes poetic on the topic “What is love?” Anna wrote about getting the chance to learn what love is during her first year of independence in college. “Unfortunately, sometimes in life you are forced to know what something isn’t before you can know what it is,” Anna writes.
The inspiring story of Ricardo Rodriguez became an instant classic, touching the hearts of thousands of readers. Ricardo was born with severe physical disabilities and was abused in foster care for the first years of his life, but when he was adopted by his grandmother, his life turned around. In Time Spent on Me Wasn’t Wasted, Ricardo — who now works in the tech industry — explains how one woman’s dedication to helping him thrive despite his disabilities gave him the chance to build the “normal life” he was told he’d never have.
Bringing important youth perspective to the ongoing immigration controversy, a young woman from El Salvador who arrived at the southern U.S. border as an unaccompanied minor shares her story of coming of age in immigration detention, and how in one day — her 18th birthday — everything changed.
During the summer, we highlighted a series of stories on policy ideas from experienced young people. In the nine-part “Ideas from the Experts” series, youth advocates talked about the need for parity in kinship payments, protecting LGBTQ rights, and providing universal foster care through 21.
In this powerful piece, Youth Voice writer Katarina Kabick tells the story of a young woman who bounced between the foster care and juvenile justice systems throughout her teen years as her mom fought for the stable housing she needed to keep the family together. This story poses a challenging suggestion: If We’d Had Housing Support, Maybe I Wouldn’t Have Spent My Teen Years Locked Up.
For the first time ever, we added a multimedia component to our Youth Voice program this year. The winners of our first-ever photography contest created beautiful and thought-provoking photo essays depicting their foster care experience.
Our Youth Voice writing program provides paid journalism opportunities to young people ages 16-26 with experience with foster care, adoption or juvenile justice. Reach out at [email protected] to learn more!