About Project Life

The Problem and What We Can Do About It

We all know that being a foster kid is not easy. And being a professional working with foster youth is not easy either. Project LIFE is here to help both the youth and those who help them.

About Project Life

Youth in Foster Care

Permanence & Connections

Youth in foster care often lack a stable connection with another adult they can count on.

“We struggle for connection with people because so often they say they will be there, and then they leave.”
Project LIFE helps nurture permanent connections between youth in foster care and adults so they can develop life-long relationships.

Youth in foster care don’t have the opportunity to share their concerns with or learn from other youth in foster care.

“My friends in school don’t understand what it’s like. People think because they moved a lot that they understand, but they don’t.”
Project LIFE produces activities, training events and conferences that bring youth in foster care together from around the state.


Many youth in foster care are not prepared for life after they leave foster care.

“The system coddles me. I wish I knew what I was facing so that I could have taken steps to get ready for what I had to deal with when I turned 18.”
Project LIFE provides the resources and assistance to help youth in foster care effectively transition to adulthood.


Youth in foster care don’t think they have a say in what happens to them.

“I don’t want to take these medicines any more, but my foster mother says I have to.”
Project LIFE helps youth in foster care understand their rights and how to ask for them.

Youth in foster care don’t know how to effectively advocate for themselves.

“I’ve been trying to visit with my little sister, but no one will help me get in touch with her.”
Project LIFE trains youth in foster care to express their needs in all areas of their lives in a way that gets results.


Youth in foster care may not know what benefits they can get once they age out of the system.

“I don’t need foster care or anyone’s help. I can’t wait to be free of this.”
Project LIFE educates youth in foster care about free services and other resources they are entitled to if they stay connected to the system.

Youth in foster care are not considered a priority to legislators who set policies and budgets.

“If someone in power knew how hard my life is, maybe they would try to help us more.”
Project LIFE encourages youth to stand up and be counted by taking the NYTD survey.

Youth in foster care want policies that benefit them.

“We have rights, too. People need to know that, because I think the laws are stacked against us.”
Project LIFE is working on developing a Foster Care Bill of Rights in Virginia that can serve as a model for other states.



Social service professionals are very busy and don’t have time to develop materials to guide and inspire youth in foster care.

“I’m in this to help the kids, but it’s hard to keep up with my caseload, so that doesn’t leave any time for finding great resources to help them.”
Project LIFE supports family services specialists with the tested resources they need to effectively help youth in foster care.

Family services specialists may not have practical ways to stay abreast of the information they need to help youth in foster care.

“I’m pulled in so many directions. It’s hard to know where to turn for trustworthy advice.”
Project LIFE reaches out to local departments of social services to provide hands-on technical assistance and training to help them support youth in foster care.

1,700 +

foster youth served in Virginia since Project LIFE’s beginning

120 +

departments of social service agencies supported

500 +

participants in bi-annual statewide youth conferences

What We Do

Project LIFE serves foster youth, ages 14 to 21, throughout five regions of Virginia. Project LIFE seeks to fulfill the goals of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act and the principles of the Children’s Services System Transformation, which emphasizes children’s rights to permanency.

What We Believe

We believe that all people have strengths and are able to form social bonds, solve problems, exercise self-control, and make a contribution to society. Mastering these universal growth needs is essential for all young people as they transition into adulthood.

Get In Touch

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Need a Speaker?

Project LIFE has a group of articulate, well-informed young people who can answer questions about what youth in foster care need from their workers and from the foster care system as well as provide a realistic perspective on the life experiences of youth in foster care.

Whether you need a full panel for a conference of Family Service Specialists or an individual speaker to address the legislature or Congress, Project LIFE can provide fluent, knowledgeable young people, eager to share their knowledge.

email sbooker@umfs.org or call 804.353.4461 x1504
for more information or to arrange a speaker.

“In the beginning, in foster care I was ashamed … Being in Project LIFE helped me understand just because I am in foster care doesn’t mean I am just a statistic.”

Project LIFE Participant