Neglected as she moved from one relative’s home to the next, Kristin, 12, entered state custody when she was only 2 years old. She was also exposed to domestic violence, sexual abuse and drug addiction.
Kristin spent a year in Youth Villages’ intensive residential treatment to address challenging behaviors. Meanwhile, John and Melissa Miller were training to become foster parents.
“The timing was meant to be,” Melissa said. “We didn’t know what to expect as new foster parents, but Kristin captured our hearts. By the end of our first weekend together, we couldn’t imagine life without her.”
With consistent and attentive parenting, Kristin’s defiance disappeared. John and Melissa signed an intent to adopt as quickly as possible. Eight days later, the adoption was finalized.
“Being Kristin’s mother feels like I am fulfilling my calling,” Melissa said. “John and I find pure joy in providing the love and support she has always deserved.”
Melissa and John enrolled Kristin in horseback riding lessons. Kristin wants to become a veterinarian, and they regularly volunteer at the local animal hospital. Kristin’s grades have never been better, and she looks forward to attending private school in the fall.
“This happy ending reflects the amazing teamwork of Youth Villages and the Department of Children’s Services,” said Joli LaRoche, Youth Villages adoption specialist. “Thanks to everyone’s efforts, Kristin found her forever family.”
Groups joining together to end youth homelessness
A Way Home America, a new national initiative to build a movement to prevent and end homelessness among young people, launching this month.
Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program is one of the country’s largest helping former foster youth – a group that is statistically more likely to experience homelessness and housing insecurity.
“Youth Villages is pleased to be part of the effort to end youth homelessness,” said Amanda Rivera, manager of federal policy for Youth Villages. “We know that effective help for young people makes a difference.”
The launch of A Way Home America corresponds with the White House Policy Briefing on Ending Youth Homelessness co-hosted by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the True Colors Fund. More than 50 different organizations addressing youth homelessness are involved in A Way Home America, including the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which leads the coordinated federal response to homelessness, and its member agencies.
Results from an MDRC randomized controlled trial of the YVLifeSet program released last year showed that participants experienced a 22 percent decrease in the likelihood of experiencing homelessness.
“The program’s effect on homelessness is a huge deal, particularly because it’s not a housing program,” said Mark Courtney, Ph.D., recently at a Capitol Hill forum focusing on effective programs for transition-age youth. A professor in the School of Social Services Administration at the University of Chicago, Courtney was the principal investigator in the MDRC study and in the Midwest Study, one of the largest research projects involving former foster youth.
Although program participants did see increased earnings and economic wellbeing, Courtney said the housing outcomes “most likely came from helping the young people do whatever they needed to do, whatever it took to avoid homelessness.”
A Way Home America’s efforts build on “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.”
Partnerships, new approaches highlight forum on scaling effective practices to help former foster youth
Every year about 26,000 young people in the United States turn 18 and age out of foster care without ever being united with their biological families or finding a new one through adoption. They are one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, more likely to be homeless, never reach education milestones, to face unemployment and incarceration.
Last week, the American Youth Policy Forum hosted a Capitol Hill briefing highlighting the need to expand effective programs capable of helping transition-age youth overcome challenges and go on to be successful, independent adults. The forum was co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.
Moderated by David Sanders, Ph.D, executive vice president of systems improvement for Casey Family Programs, the briefing examined the Youth Villages YVLifeSet program and ways to improve federal and state systems to better meet the needs of transition-age youth.
“This is about a system that fails to provide the kind of services and support that young people need to be able to become contributing adults,” Sanders said. “Twenty-eight percent of all children in out-of-home care are teenagers. Nearly half have been in care for two years or longer and don’t have a case plan goal that supports permanency. How do we support permanency so youth are not leaving care without families? Right now the pipeline is not very encouraging.”
On the panel were Mark Courtney, Ph.D, professor in social services administration at the University of Chicago; Mike Leach, director of independent living for Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services; Jeff Rainey, senior executive for strategic advancement at the YMCA of Greater Seattle; and Justice Rutherford, a 20-year-old YVLifeSet participant from Memphis, Tennessee.
Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler described the development of the program. By 2015, YVLifeSet had helped more than 8,000 former foster and disconnected youth in seven states and had shown significant impact in the country’s largest randomized controlled study. The organization began to study how to scale the program to reach every young person who ages out of care each year.
“It seemed like too big a hill for us to climb ourselves,” Lawler said. “And the numbers fluctuate. We know that there are young people who are 19, 20, 21 and 22 who still need help now. Read more…
Nine participants in Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program joined other foster youth from around the country (above) for the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program in Washington, D.C., this week. They are participating in three days of education, advocacy and relationship building with the goal of improving and strengthening child welfare systems across the United States. They were at the White House today and heard from administration leaders on why advocacy by foster youth on the local, state and national levels is critical to affecting the decisions made by elected officials and policy leaders on their behalf (below).
“YVLifeSet gives young adults like me the extra reinforcement to achieve goals that we otherwise might not be able to achieve. It helps kids like me prepare for adulthood in the right way which helps us pave the way for a bright future.”
— Ann (center, with Gov. Charles Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker)
Youth Villages is grateful to the 230 supporters, including Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker, who joined us Thursday, April 28, as we honored our Massachusetts Founding Board Member, Sandy Edgerley, at our Spring Celebration. The outpouring of generosity from our guests at this year’s event truly blew us away! The event raised over $550,000 to help even more young adults aging out of foster care like Ann (above), through the YVLifeSet program. Together we are giving these young people the gift of a good start!
It’s not too late to support our YVLifeSet program. Please click here to contribute.
If you were unable to attend the event, please watch this short but moving video to hear directly from Ann (below) about how YVLifeSet has helped set her on a path towards success.
Please feel free to share this video with your friends, family and coworkers through your social media networks. It takes all of us to help make sure no child becomes lost at 18. We give special thanks to the evening’s honoree, Sandy Edgerley, our amazing event committee and our event sponsors without whom this event would not have been possible.
Special thanks to our sponsors:
Anita and Josh Bekenstein
Sandy and Paul Edgerley
Joanna and Jon Jacobson
The Klarman Family Foundation
Amy and David Abrams
Yvette and Peter Mulderry
Brian and Stephanie Spector
Fran and David Davidson
Patti and Jonathan Kraft
Mike Krupka and Anne Kubik
Mark Nunnelly and Denise Dupre
Kim Syman and J.B. Lyon
Daniel and Shoshana Farb, Donna and David Frieze, Jeffrey and Janet Glidden, Dave and Suzi Johnson, Lisa and Michael Josephson, Jessica and Josh Lutzker, Lori and Matthew Sidman, Jill and Michael Stansky, Caron and Kevin Tabb
The Boston Foundation, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares, Credit Suisse, The Davis Companies, Alexis Contant and Jordan Smoller, Yvonne Hao, Ralph and Janice James, Daniel and Wendy Kraft, Emily and Michael Speicher, Jennifer and Seth Stier
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month
May is designated National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time set aside to help raise awareness of the needs and challenges of children in foster care.
Youth Villages partners with the states of Tennessee and Mississippi to help find and train foster parents and oversee the care they provide to children. Youth Villages is also one of a handful of organizations that handle adoptions from foster care in Tennessee.
“The need for foster families is great and ongoing,” said Tiffany Dickerson, who oversees Youth Villages’ foster care recruitment and training efforts in the Shelby County in Tennessee. “Every child needs and deserves to live with a family, and for many children, a foster family is the first time they experience stability. We see it over and over how foster families make a difference for children who cannot live with their birth families.”
Children are placed into foster care when it’s determined that their families cannot safely care for them. Some of the children have faced abuse and neglect. States look for an appropriate placement for the child among its pool of foster parents and calls its partner organizations to help find a family who’s a good match.
“The calls come daily about a child or several children, or a sibling group who need homes,” Dickerson said. “We want to be ready to answer the call, and in order to do that, we are looking for more foster families.”
Each state has requirements that potential foster parents must meet.
“The most important requirement is that people interested in fostering have a passion for making a difference in the lives of children,” Dickerson said.
Youth Villages foster parents receive 24/7 support and a monthly stipend to help offset the cost of caring for a child. Adoption through Youth Villages is free.
Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Steven Tyler, Award-Winning Director Brett Ratner Bring Intimate Concert Performance To Lincoln Center May 2 to benefit Janie’s Fund
Tickets On Sale Friday, April 8 10 a.m. ET
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Steven Tyler today announced his intimate concert performance “STEVEN TYLER…OUT ON A LIMB” at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall on May 2. The award-winning director Brett Ratner and the legendary frontman are collaborating on a unique experience to benefit Janie’s Fund, Tyler’s charitable initiative to help girls overcome the trauma of abuse and neglect.
Named after his hit song “Janie’s Got A Gun,” Janie’s Fund is a collaboration between Tyler and leading nonprofit organization Youth Villages established to help girls who have been abuses and neglected. Launched in November 2015, Janie’s Fund offered a historic 54 days of impact coinciding with the 26th anniversary of the release of the song. For more information, please visit: www.JaniesFund.org.
“Youth Villages is so grateful to Steven Tyler for starting Janie’s Fund to help our girls who are working to heal from abuse,” said Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler. “Steven’s commitment to helping these girls brings them so much hope, and this will be an incredible evening. He uses his big voice unceasingly to raise awareness and funds for the voiceless.”
“I’m digging deep and finding some real buried treasure for this one. I’ve never performed quite like this before,” Tyler said. “I’m telling it like it is and getting to perform with some extremely talented musicians and dear friends from Nashville. For this show, we’re taking it up close and personal and truly going…OUT ON A LIMB.”
“STEVEN TYLER…OUT ON A LIMB” will showcase in-depth stories and insights on stage from recounts of Tyler’s piano upbringing to trials and tribulations of life with his band. Backed by his Nashville-based band, Loving Mary, Tyler will lead the crowd on a time-traveling journey from his musical ancestors in Calabria, Italy all the way to Route 440 and Nashville’s country music.
The event will also feature a silent auction with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memorabilia, from a five-day stay at Tyler’s Hawaiian home to a limited edition, hand-shaped artist series surfboard designed by artist Tim Bessell as part of the Bessell Warhol Project. Additional items include an autographed, one-of-a-kind painting of Tyler and Aerosmith bandmate Joe Perry by artist Brian Fox; the Skittles® mic stand from the set of Tyler’s Super Bowl commercial; exclusive signed images taken by photographer Sarah Skinner; pieces from Tyler’s personal wardrobe worn on American Idol; and an opportunity to attend the Emmy® Awards in Los Angeles along with a complimentary gifting suite prize package.
Tickets go on sale Friday, April 8 at 10 a.m. and are priced at $53, $153 and $203, not including applicable service charges. Two VIP packages will be offered by Twisted J, one at $550 (includes access to seats in the first five rows and exclusive advance access to silent auction items) and $950 (same offer as $550 with the addition of a Meet and Greet). For additional information with package details, visit www.ticketmaster.com.
One of music’s most recognizable and dynamic performers, Tyler has been cited by Rolling Stone as “one of the greatest singers of all time.” Tyler and Aerosmith have sold more than 150 million records worldwide and he has won four GRAMMY® Awards, six American Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and an Emmy® Award. In addition to having nine No. 1 hits, Aerosmith has received 25 Gold, 18 Platinum and 12 multi-Platinum album certifications. Tyler’s highly anticipated upcoming solo album is scheduled for release later this summer on Big Machine Label Group’s Dot Records. His current single, “RED, WHITE, & YOU” is available now.
In addition to presenting sponsor Twisted J Apparel, award-winning New York-based restaurant Catch will sponsor the milestone event.