SPEAKOUT Application
Are you interested in helping to create change in foster care policy? Do you have experience in the foster care system that you’re willing to use to help other youth in foster care? If so, consider applying to a youth advisory group that will provide input directly to VDSS.

SPEAKOUT (Strong Positive Educated Advocates Keen On Understanding the Truth) is for youth in foster care and alumni who are interested in using their voice to provide input on foster care regulations, policy, guidance, and practice concerns, while also building advocacy and leadership skills.

The group will ideally consist of 15-20 foster youth from across the state. It is expected that the group will meet several times a year to discuss issues and share ideas with VDSS. The meetings for the group will be held in various locations throughout the state.

If you have any questions, please email Speakout@dss.virginia.gov or contact Chauncey Strong or Em Parente:

Chauncey Strong, MSW
Youth Development Specialist
(804) 229-2211

Em Parente
Foster Care & Family Engagement Program Manager
(804) 726-7538

Please provide the following information.
First Name *
Your answer
Last Name *
Your answer
Phone Number *
Your answer
Email *
Your answer
Age *
Your answer
VDSS Regional Boundaries
Select your region using the above map as a reference. *
What is your current foster care status? *
Please provide information below of someone to contact in case of an emergency.
Contact Person's First and Last Name *
Your answer
Contact Person's Phone Number *
Your answer
Contact Person's Alternate Phone Number
Your answer
Contact Person's Relationship to You *
Your answer
Please answer the following questions.
Please note that your responses and/or lack of advocacy experience will not disqualify you from being accepted to SPEAKOUT. The questions are mainly intended to get to know you and learn more about why you are interested in being a part of the group.
In 2-3 sentences, tell us a little bit about yourself (such as your grade, interests, hobbies, goals, life experiences, etc.) *
Your answer
What are some goals you have for your future? *
Your answer
On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable are you with sharing your story or experiences with the foster care system in order to impact foster care policy and help other youth in care? *
very uncomfortable
very comfortable
If you could pick one issue affecting youth in foster care for this group to focus on, what would it be and why? *
Your answer
What would you hope to gain from the experience of being a part of this group? *
Your answer
Have you participated in the Project LIFE Youth Network, the Foster Care Alumni of America (if over 18), or any other advocacy group? Please explain your involvement.
Your answer
Describe a time you’ve had to advocate for something and what that experience was like for you. *
NOTE: To advocate means to speak up for something you feel passionate about.
Your answer
Do you have reliable transportation you would be able to use to get to different locations in the state? *
NOTE: Even if your answer to this question is “no” or “maybe”, this does not disqualify you from participating in the group. We just want to know so that we can coordinate transportation.
Is there anything else you would like to share or think is important to know when considering you for this group? *
Your answer
Thank you for your interest in joining SPEAKOUT!
Your application is being reviewed and you will be contacted shortly.
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