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Alumni of Distinction: Amanda Metivier
by Matt Jardin |
Amanda Metivier, B.S.W. ’08, M.S.W. ’12, will receive the 2021 Alumni Humanitarian award at the Alumni of Distinction celebration banquet on April 23.
Social work alumna Amanda Metivier has dedicated her career and personal life to child welfare reform, culminating in her recent appointment as director of the Child Welfare Academy (CWA) at UAA. A former foster youth herself, she, along with a group of current and former foster youth, co-founded the nonprofit Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA) in 2003.
Through her advocacy with FFCA, Amanda has led efforts to expand services and support for foster youth across Alaska, including freedom of speech for foster youth; extended foster care; foster care re-entry; higher education funding; access to mentorship, technology and clothing; foster parent recruitment; transitional living; medically necessary orthodontia; sibling contact and relative search; increased training and staffing for child protection; school stability; and youth engagement in case planning, all while paving the way for foster youth to share lived-expertise to raise awareness and make change.
Having spent time in the foster care system as a teenager, Metivier understands how valuable an education can be and the difference being around peers can have. When she first joined CWA in 2012, it was to develop the Education and Training Voucher Program to help foster youth pursue higher education throughout the state.
“Meeting other foster youth who had similar worries, similar stressors and similar experiences helped me realize that something bigger needed to happen with the system,” said Metivier. “The university also gave me an opportunity to think about who I really wanted to be and what my place was in the world beyond even my pursuit of social work.”
In 2018, FFCA and CWA partnered to launch the Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE), serving more than 300 current and former foster youth annually across the state to streamline access to higher education and training, develop life skills critical for adulthood and engage in systems reform. Today, OYE is staffed by those with lived expertise supporting the next generation of foster youth.
“Alaska has some of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the country — it's an epidemic on top of a pandemic,” said Metivier. “But when Alaskans know there's a need, they step up. That's the greatest mission, pursuing better outcomes for children and families.”
According to Metivier, she never envisioned that she would pursue higher education. But thanks to a social worker who kept encouraging her to think about her future, Metivier enrolled at UAA knowing exactly what field she wanted to pursue, paving the way for her career in advocacy, as well as her paying it forward by being an adoptive parent and foster parent to more than 20 teenagers over the years with her husband.
“This path found me,” said Metivier. “I didn’t initially see advocacy as my path, or even imagine myself as someone who would go to college. But I had this caseworker who just kept showing up and encouraged me to finish school. So it was natural for me to want to help others in the same way that I had been helped.”