Over the past two decades, the Maine child welfare system has developed an innovative approach to improve outcomes for older youth in care by working in partnership with youth. The Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) brings together young people who are involved with the child welfare system and creates opportunities for them to learn and practice leadership and advocacy skills. YLAT is a three-way partnership including the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and Maine’s youth in care. The approach is a departure from traditional “programming.” Rather than providing a direct service, YLAT encourages youth members to join a team of their peers, develop advocacy skills, advise policy makers, and contribute to improved outcomes for all young people in care.
This publication is made possible by a grant from the Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.