Identifying Youth

Seek Diverse Representation

Organizations are often tempted to choose youth who have had successful outcomes and may no longer be using services. While these voices provide an important perspective, including youth who are currently involved in systems and struggles will provide a more authentic, complete representation of the challenges youth face. Remember, youth are resilient, and the opportunity to become involved in creating solutions can also bring positive change to their personal lives.

Use Your Connections

Sometimes it is easy to forget about the option of including people who are part of our personal lives, such as family members, friends, neighbors, and individuals from the same social organization or faith community. Also connect with programs, groups, and other adults you interact with frequently to see if they can help recruit the appropriate youth.

Privacy Concerns

Many organizations have regulations, such as HIPAA or FERPA, regarding confidentiality and sharing of personal information. Agencies may sometimes have concerns about youth sharing their lived experience and whether doing so violates these privacy laws. Just as a minor or young adult has the right to request privacy protections and give their own consent, youth are also able to self­disclose information about their experiences as they choose. The agency will want a signed media release form if these experiences are going to be shared with the public media, social media, on the organization’s website, or in agency material. Privacy concerns should not be used as a reason for deterring youth voice.

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