Foster youth from all over the world are using their voices to relay what they need to see changed in a system, that’s a concept created for them. Whether you are a biological parent, a foster parent, a caseworker, a judge, a stranger, I encourage you to LISTEN. Not only do I encourage you to listen, but I also challenge you to HEAR what is being said beyond the pain. SEE what is being shown to you beyond the walls we have created for survival. STUDY how we communicate the needs we have that we may not even realize exist because they were never provided or accessible. LEARN to appreciate how strong we are and how much we have to learn and grow when given a space to do so. ASK what you do not understand and how you can assist. It may take some time, but I promise we are worth the effort. Foster Youth are worthy of people who are willing to hear them. So what do I think of the importance of Foster Youth voice? Well we, the Foster Youth, have the most important voice when it comes to creating a safe space for ourselves and the rising 2.7 million children in care around the world. 

Foster Youth voice should be seen as simply “voice” that is needed for communication, verbal or non-verbal expressions, necessary to understand what needs this human being has. Part of the reason why we became foster youth was because we spoke out and used our voice to communicate our environment or guardians were deemed unfit to take care of us. We were removed by adults who claim to want to protect, help, and “save” us. But how would any of that be possible if our voice was never heard or taken into consideration?

Youth voice should never be thought of as invalid, unimportant, or silenced. Our voice is essential to communicating our wants and needs. Youth voice is important because there is no scenario that I could think of where an individual’s voice would not be important. Every single voice is important. Any conversation had, case studied, decision made based off of statements, etc., were uniquely constructed by individual voices. If one voice is not involved, all of those examples above would be different.

Our voice is essential, critical, important, vital, and loud. I hope you hear me when I say, all voices are IMPORTANT.

Yesenia Anaya has spent the last few years in the work field as a Human Resources Manager for a fiber optics company. Recently, she has stepped away from that role and moved to Austin, Texas to pursue temporary job opportunities before returning to school.

Currently, she is an entertainment host, server, and All-Star Program Job Coach. After a three year break from school to find a better major for herself, she has finally decided to pursue a career geared towards advocacy and social work.

In her free time, she enjoys journaling, entertaining, traveling,  and cuddling up to her pups, Winnie and Cheech. Yesenia was placed into the Michigan Foster Care System at the age of 12. She and her brother were granted a kinship placement before eventually being reunified with their mother. Today, she is actively involved in advocacy opportunities as they arise and is focused on using today to make a better tomorrow for all.