Voices of Youth

Award Recipients - 2001

Jennifer Nelson, Gessy Nixon, Co-Founders


Jennifer Nelson and Gessy Nixon created Voices of Youth (VOY) in 1999 to work with youth who live or have lived in the foster care system.  VOY provides a safe environment that encourages foster care youth to speak out and build community among themselves.  VOY seeks “to make foster care a more supportive experience and to raise awareness and build skills among persons working in the system so they can better serve young people.”
VOY believes that involving young people in the design and implantation of training programs for policy makers and personnel is key to transforming the quality of life in the child welfare system.  It conducts workshops for administrators and others in decision-making positions.  VOY trains youth, 13 to 25 years old, who have lived in foster homes, group homes, kinship care, residential centers, juvenile detention and homeless shelters as presenters and workshop facilitators.  The sessions are the basis for problem solving and suggestions for improving casework practices and policies.  VOY youth also prepare written documentation of personal experiences for use by casework staff.  Other activities include a yearly conference for youth living in foster care, a resource manual for youth transitioning out of the system and referrals to jobs, food, clothing, medical care, and counseling.

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