Foster Youth in Action was founded in 2008 by young organizers and supportive adults with California Youth Connection (CYC). This grassroots, statewide, foster youth led organization  had a powerful vision of a national community of organized groups and young leaders working locally, regionally, and nationally to ensure that the diverse voices of foster youth were truly represented.  Starting California Youth Connection and then Oregon Foster Youth Connection, our family of youth-led groups has grown to 23 partners in twenty states.


Our principles

Foster Youth in Action is guided by the following set of principles in our work with young people and communities. 

  • Youth Are the experts.  Those who are directly impacted by the system must be part of changing it.
  • We need all young people’s voices. Changing the system can’t rest on a few, hand-picked leaders.  All young people with experience in the system should be included.
  • Organizing is transformational.  Youth organizing as a youth engagement strategy is a profoundly transformational experience that builds hope, confidence, connection, and community.  Read more about this unique foster youth engagement approach here [link to our paper].

The Challenge our communities face

Like their peers outside the system, foster youth have hope, want a good education, and dream of a fulfilling and meaningful life. For most, however, these simple hopes are out of reach.  Instead, the foster care system pushes young people towards homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration.  Foster youth, disproportionately black and brown, are aging out of care unprepared, unsupported, and disconnected. 

Our approach is youth organizing

Young people with experience in care can and should be a part of the solution, and child welfare systems say they are listening to what youth want and need to thrive. However, most existing approaches to “youth engagement” fail to do just that. Selecting a handful of hand-picked young people to share their stories and offer “advice” tokenizes the few and distorts the priorities of the many.  

As a national organization working with local organizing groups led by young people, Foster Youth in Action, believes that change is critical, and that in order to create this change, we need different tools to get there.  Youth Organizing is one of those tools.  With youth organizing as the strategy for foster youth engagement, we can greatly expand opportunities that make space for all youth to participate; ensure that issues and priorities are truly raised up from the grassroots; and help young people build lasting power to achieve transformational changes that go beyond the limited reforms that systems would prefer.  If young people continue to be unorganized, systems will have little pressure to make the kinds of changes that move the needle on outcomes for youth leaving care.


Our Work >


“Now more than ever I am convinced I have brothers and sisters all over the United States standing up to improve a broken child welfare system.  I am honored to have so many of you a part of my world.” - One foster youth leader’s reflection in 2017

Families are who you love.  FYA challenges traditional definitions and boundaries  to help unite and connect a growing family of young leaders and youth-led organizations who share a common commitment to making the world better for those who come behind them.  

Go here to learn more about our family members and how we nurture, sustain, and connect our growing family.  




Our work is made possible by the generous support of the following contributors:


Andrus Family Fund

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Bozzone Family Foundation

Champions for Children, Inc.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

craigslist Charitable Fund

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Leo and Yuki Graham Foundation

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

Music is Unity Foundation

The Lyndon and Helen M. Schmid Foundation

W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation

Walter S. Johnson Foundation

Zellerbach Family Foundation

Corporations, firms, and nonprofit organizations

Bayer Health Care

ChildFocus Partners

Just in Time for Foster Youth

Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Law Office of Jonah Chew

Opportunity Youth United

The Pratt Company


Adrianne Hirt

Agnes Weber

Alan Rock

Alan Sorkin

Alice Ray

Alice Takahashi

Angie Stene

Anita and Mark Silverman

Anita Barbee


Anthony Pineau

Austin Putman

Beth Steinberg

Bill Corwin

Carole Krasick

Carolyn McInnes

Charles Raskin

Cheryl Kubelick

Cory Ishihara-Wing

Cuz of Jesse

Dana Chieco

Denise Powell

Eileen Byrnes Perry

Emily Dulcan

Gabriel Montes

Gail Johnson Vaughan

Gan Wang

Heidi Schultz

Holly Hartley

Jamie & Joseph Wang

Janet Knipe

Janet Molsberry

Janet Spitz

Jeff Berger

Joan Morse

Joan Strauss



Karen Brailean

Katharine and Alan Cahn

Kathy Koop

Kevin Bowen

Kevin Gardner

Laura and Adam Magnus

Lee Horowitz and Dana Zell

Len Edwards

Lin Ishihara

Linda Morrow

Lois Savar-Rock

Lynn Luckow

Marc Jacobson

Marc Lampell

Margo Lampell

Mary Donnellan

Matt Rosen

Meenakshi Chakraverti

Melissa Rock

Michael Olenick

Michael Piraino

Nancy Cannon-O'Connell

Nancy Cannon-O'Connell

Noah Nash

Pamela Heisler

Paula Ray

Philip Menschell & Mindy Clendaniel

Robert Hickey

Robert Marra

Rosezella Canty-Letsome

Ryan Budnick

Samantha Coover

Sarah Bess Hudson

Scott Clift

Seth Cooper

Sherry Novick

Sheryl Fullerton

Stephanie Duchesneau

Steven Shaw

Suzanne Pineau

Thomas and Karla Mahoney

Thomas McGreal

Tim Kahn

Travis Culwell

Valerie Ulstad

Valori Stitt

William White