Update #5 ·

A Foster Care Alum, Asset & Advocate

April Curtis is a child welfare expert, alumnus of the Illinois child welfare system, an MSW student at the University of Chicago, a mom, and an asset for youth served by foster care.

April currently works as the Illinois Statewide Program Manager for Teens and Alumni of DCFS at Be Strong Families. She fosters positive youth development and helps youth solve problems, advocate for themselves, and improve their lives. April has held many influential paid and volunteer positions and contributed much consulting work guiding policy, practice and advocacy benefiting child and youth well-being. She also mentors former youth in care on her own time. For over a decade she has kept up with a tradition to host a Sunday family dinner at which she welcomes alumni and their children to enjoy each other’s company.  

In addition to the kids with whom she works directly, April is an asset for countless kids across the country through leadership on the IDCFS Statewide Youth Advisory Board, as a founding Board of Director for the Foster Care Alumni Network of America, and as the youngest Board of Director for CLWA since 2002. She fights to expand opportunities for foster youth in numerous other capacities too. A diligent advocate and leader, April has been nominated for and has earned several awards.

Among the many issues related to foster youth that she promotes, April is passionate about sibling rights. She believes siblings are an indispensible asset to each other and that siblings deserve to stay connected. Ultimately, she hopes to change laws so that other youth will be spared the pain of sibling separation she endured.

April has sponsored a Sibling Symposium, served on the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Sibling Post-Adoption Continuing Contact, co-authored Illinois state bills to support sibling contact and helps teens and alumni throughout the state to learn about their rights. April is not only educating others in her home state, she also presents both nationally and internationally to the child welfare community on the importance of sibling bonds. As a consultant for the Children’s Bureau’s National Resource Center on Adoption, she wrote this article on sibling relationships, http://www.nrcadoption.org/pdfs/roundtable/V27N1-2014.pdf

Here’s what April has to say when asked about leveraging assets for kids in care, 

“It’s so important to recognize siblings in foster care as an asset for each other. Siblings can depend on each other, no matter what. They can keep each other grounded and serve as a sounding board for life decisions. I challenge people who know or work with children in foster care to think about this key relationship, then do the math. How much time do the siblings actually get to spend together? Could they have more contact in person, through phone calls, emails, birthday cards, pictures? Encouraging sibling relationships is offering a lifelong asset to the kids you care about.”

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