The core values of the system of care philosophy specify that systems of care are youth-guided.
Youth-guided means that young people have the right to be empowered, educated, and given a decision-making role in the care of their own lives as well, as the policies and procedures governing care for all youth in the community, state, and nation. This includes giving young people a sustainable voice and then listening to that voice. Youth-guided organizations create safe environments that enable young people to gain self-sustainability in accordance with the cultures and beliefs with which they identify. Further, a youth-guided approach recognizes that there is a continuum of power that should be shared with young people based on their understanding and maturity in a strength-based change process. Youth-guided organizations recognize that this process should be fun and worthwhile.
Authentic youth engagement provides opportunities for youth to be more involved in their services, give and receive support from their peers, gain knowledge and skills that can be used to pursue their personal goals, and use their lived experience to make a difference in their community. Furthermore, youth-adult partnerships allow for communities to gain current information on the types of services and supports that matter most to young people.