Lived Experience

A lived experience team provides an authentic perspective that contributes to a deeper understanding of the child welfare system’s needs and service gaps. They coordinate teams to amplify the voice and perspective of families. This transforms the system to better serve children and families. Actively partnering with lived experience leaders is key to:

  • Building equity and reducing barriers to care.
  • Empowering individuals who demonstrate resiliency in their journey.
  • Demonstrating that hope and recovery are possible for all families.
  • Building compassion in professional stakeholders by really hearing the stories of lived experience. 

The voices of lived experience stakeholders are vital to the Wisconsin Child Welfare transformation. The transformation aims to support more children and families in-home with services. A transformation this large occurs when voices of lived experience are welcomed and heard.

What DCF is Doing

To support this effort, DCF hired their first Lived Experience Coordinator. The focus is to elevate families with lived experience through engagement, development, and support. This includes parents and families impacted by the child welfare system. In collaboration with the Office of Children's Mental Health, the Department of Children and Families launched the Parent Leaders in Child Welfare Stakeholder Group in January 2021.

Putting Families First

The lived experience voice is essential to shifting the child welfare system to help serve more children and families in-home. DCF understands that there must be a robust lived experience voice in the work of the child welfare strategic transformation. Lived experience voice will support advocacy, education, and training to a wide array of internal and external stakeholders to add lived experience expertise across programs and policies to serve children, youth and families.

Get Involved

There are a variety of ways to be involved in lived experience at DCF! Parents that may be interested in joining this group may complete this form. This group is made up of parents with lived child welfare experience. This group meets monthly and supports Putting Families First efforts. DCF will be hosting virtual meetings for more information on the Parent Leader Group sessions. Dates for these events will be posted here and coming soon.   

If you’re a county or agency, and are interested in participating in lived experience learning opportunities, or how to bring engage Lived Experience in your area, please send an email to

Graphic for Fall Lunch and Learn sessions