Park West Foundation Youth Participate in Conversation on Improving the Child Welfare System
The Park West Foundation has been fortunate to support an incredible group of young adults from Michigan’s foster care system—some truly remarkable young people who are driven to follow their passions.
Thanks to their mentors, these high-school students have learned the importance of voicing their opinions. Recently, some of our students participated in a forum designed to help improve the child welfare system in Michigan. At the event in Dearborn, Michigan, Park West Foundation students Nick, Zadalynn, Majera, Grant, Ashley, and Marie articulated to the forum what is working well within the system and provided their thoughts on what needs to change.
Throughout the conversation, they emphasized that their voices are critical to promoting positive outcomes for youth wellbeing and success across the board for future generations.
We were able to connect with Zadalynn, one of the Foundation’s students, to talk about her personal involvement with this event, her opinion on the foster care system, and what she believes needs to be done to improve it.
Why do you believe events, such as this one, are important to continue to have around the state?
Zadalynn: It is important to keep awareness relevant in communities around the state of Michigan to educate others who may not be familiar with the foster care system. These events are important so we, as foster care youth, are heard and can make sure that someone is willing to listen and take action.
During the October event, what was the main topic that was discussed?
Zadalynn: The event heavily focused on foster care improvement with the “hurry and wait” adopting process. The concern of keeping foster care siblings united was also a main topic of discussion.
What is something you believe has seen great improvement/worked well in Michigan’s child welfare system?
Zadalynn: The system that has been developed around placing individuals in and out of homes has been well organized and fast moving. Finding a home was never an issue.
If there was one thing you could change about Michigan’s child welfare system what would it be and why?
Zadalynn: I would suggest that communication with children in foster care needs to be improved, because we don’t tend to ask the “why” or “what’s bothering you?” or “how could we fix this?”.
How has your experience empowered you to help other youth in similar situations?
Zadalynn: It has empowered me to speak out and advocate for young people to provide them with hope and knowledge to know it’s never too late to speak out.
This forum was the third gathering in Michigan committed to restoring human dignity by improving the child welfare system. Decision makers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, including Director Robert Gordon, Business District 5 Director Jennifer Wrayno, Wayne County Director Annie Ray, Division of Child Welfare Licensing Patricia Neitman, and Casey Family Programs Director JooYeun Chang, joined to facilitate the forum.