Some of the most challenging societal problems we face in society – homelessness, mental illness, incarceration, and human trafficking – all share a common contributing factor: foster care. Critical decisions throughout the child welfare system - from the front lines of direct service to the federal government - are regularly made by people far from the system, rather than by those closest to it; people with lived experience. Data in child welfare is out of touch with the day-to-day realities of people who experience the system, disjointed across states, inconsistently collected, and outdated.
This fundamental disconnect creates fragmented solutions that only address parts of the problem and interventions that do not effectively improve life outcomes for families.
Building on our engagement with more than 38,000 people with lived experience in 2020 and 2021, the Lived Experience Network is an accessible virtual community among current and former foster youth, biological parents, and kin caregivers.
The Lived Experience Network will allow Think of Us and its partners to create opportunities and pathways for people with lived experience to:
The Lived Experience Network is in its foundational stages, establishing strategy and processes to serve as a source of truth from which data-driven decisions are made. Thus far, this has included:
The Lived Experience Network is led, facilitated, and built with people with lived experience