Voices of Lived Experience in Child Welfare

A Digital Story Library

Listen to the stories of families, young adults, caregivers, agency leaders and staff, service providers, and legal partners affected by the child welfare system.

The storytellers are parents, youth, kin caregivers, resource and adoptive parents, agency leaders and staff, community partners, legal partners, and peer mentors. Hearing their perspectives can change the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we practice. Partner stories with activities from the discussion guide to build understanding and foster connections as you advocate, inspire, support, recruit, train and coach individuals and teams.

Voices of Lived Experience Galleries

Use the guide and digital stories from this library with teams and individuals to advocate, inspire, support, recruit, train, and coach towards a better child welfare system.

Access the discussion guide

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Listen to the stories of foster parents and kinship caregivers who adopted children when reunification wasn’t possible. Hear from youth and young adults whose adoptions were successful and from others who returned to foster care.

View Adoption Videos
Family Court

Hear what happens when a family court uses a compassionate and strength-based approach to supporting families and learn about how different people experience this approach including: court interdisciplinary teams, parents, agency and CASA workers, judges, lawyers, child and parent advocates, and peer mentors.

View Family Court Videos
Foster Care

Listen as resource parents explain what it means be a support to families of children in their care rather than a substitute for parents, and the training and support networks that helped them through challenges.

View Foster Care Videos
Kinship care

Explore the stories of grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and family friends as they make life adjustments to step into the role of kinship caregivers.

View Kinship care Videos

See how a trauma-informed, family-centered approach encourages reunification when parents are supported by wraparound services and trusting relationships with caregivers and others.

View Reunification Videos
Youth Engagement

Discover stories about authentic youth engagement at the practice, peer support, and system-change levels. Hear youth and young adults describe how their voices were heard while in foster care and the supportive role of caseworkers, leaders, attorneys, and peer mentors.

View Youth Engagement Videos

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My Gallery

Videos in these galleries reveal how support and partnership with peers, mentors, and agency staff support healing, well-being, and positive development. Use the filters on the left to create a unique gallery that best meets your needs. Want to share your personalized gallery with others? Use the share button to post to social media or send by email.

Showing 31 - 35 of 80 Voices of Lived Experience Stories

Highlights motivating factors for caregivers serving children with therapeutic needs, including the value of caregiver support networks, continuous training, and a commitment to strengthen families within the caregiver’s community.


Highlights the importance of recognizing the foster family as an extension of a child’s biological family and the role of effective communication between caregivers and biological family members.


Highlights the advocacy work of state and regional youth leadership councils.


Underscores the importance of consistency and encouragement in trusting relationships. A Fostering Success peer mentor gave impactful advice to the youth she mentored: Stop listening to the people who don’t believe in you.


Tells the story of the relationship between a youth in foster care and a BraveLife peer navigator. Both talk about the personal sharing and mutual trust that have forged a connection that will last a lifetime.