Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities


Youth Leadership Opportunities in Wisconsin

Benefits for joining a foster or youth justice leadership opportunity
  • Are you a youth who is interested in having a voice in shaping the child welfare and/or youth justice system?

  • Do you have personal experience (past or present) with the foster care or youth justice system?

  • Do you know a young person who has leadership potential?

  • Are you considering how to incorporate youth voice into your work?
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If yes, please read more about the Department of Children and Families opportunities for youth to have a voice and make an impact.


The Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council

The Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council (YAC) began in 2005 and consists of former and current youth in the foster care system who provide a voice for all foster care youth in Wisconsin. Youth start on regional councils, but have the ability to become members of the Statewide Advisory Council. YAC’s mission is to:

  • Work with governmental systems to inspire change through:
    • Education
    • Advocacy
    • Training
    • Awareness
  • Improve the image of youth by addressing foster care issues


A few of the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council's many accomplishments include:

Panel presentations and participation at numerous conferences:

  • Public Child Welfare Conference
  • Together for Children Conference
  • Youth Services Conference

Membership on various committees and councils:

  • Secretary’s Child Welfare Committee
  • Milwaukee Partnership Council

Participation in advocacy and training opportunities:

  • The creation of a court improvement training video
  • Participation in Department of Children and Families Citizen Review Panel

Participation in national internship and youth board opportunities:

Organizing the first youth-led Hands Around the Capitol event in the state...two years in a row!

Contact Information


Youth Leadership Teams

Youth Leadership Teams involve young people in youth justice decision making. Team members are youth who experienced personal involvement with the youth justice system. As a team, the goal is to work with the Department of Child and Families on improving the youth justice system. As a team member, they are able to:

  • Share their unique and valuable insight
  • Develop and strengthen their leadership skills
  • Work on a project of their choosing to improve the system

There are four teams currently meeting every three months on weekdays in different areas of the state (Team area maps)

  • Eau Claire
  • Madison
  • Milwaukee
  • Wausau

We welcome applicants from anywhere in the state.


Youth Leadership Team Annual Reports review the projects and accomplishments of the teams, supported by their community partners, for an academic year.

The Youth Vision for the Youth Justice System Report summarizes the perspectives of all four youth leadership teams on the current status of the youth justice system and their vision for the future.

The Advice Guidebook has advice for workers, judges, law enforcement and public defenders from youth who participated in the second year (2017-2018) of the Youth Leadership Teams. The guidebook includes input from 60 youths across the state. 

They have also joined in panel presentations at:

  • The Youth Services Conference
  • The Child Welfare and the Courts Conference

Application Information

Contact Information

If you have any questions or are interested in becoming a youth leader, send an e-mail to dcfbys@wisconsin.gov with the subject line “Youth Leadership".