You’ll be taught the skills you need to advocate for yourself and for others in foster care so your voice can be heard, whether it’s loud or soft.

Advocacy Opportunities

Speaking Engagements

Share your Story

Youth Panels

Represent Yourself and your Peers

Social Media

Be featured in News Outlets

Leadership Development

Sharpen your Leadership Skills

Collaborative Partnerships

SPEAKOUT (Strong Positive Educated Advocates Keen On Understanding the Truth)

SPEAKOUT is for youth in foster care and alumni, age 15-26, who are interested in using their voice to provide input on foster care regulations, policy, guidance, and practice concerns, while also building advocacy and leadership skills. The group will ideally consist of 15-20 foster youth from across the state. It is expected that the group will meet several times a year to discuss issues and share ideas with VDSS. The meetings for the group will be held in various locations throughout the state.

Youth MOVE through NAMI

Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) is a youth-led, activity-based group for young people. This group was created to serve as a place where young people can come and be themselves while interacting with and meeting others who have similar experiences. Youth MOVE is also a space where the youth can be the drivers of their future and are able to be effective leaders in their community.

To learn more, visit Youth MOVE Virginia.

Be a foster care success story!

Help yourself and other youth in foster care by speaking up, sharing your ideas, getting involved in opportunities to change the foster system and becoming a leader. Project LIFE conference planning, SPEAKOUT, Youth MOVE, workshop co-facilitation, and youth panels are all great ways to take a giant step toward the life you want.

Lacey Kangas

Youth Development Coordinator

Lacey joined UMFS in 2023 as the Youth Development Coordinator. Before starting at UMFS Lacey worked for VDSS as their Education and Training (ETV) Administrative Specialist. Lacey also has lived experience. She has been in foster care since she was 15 years old and will age out of her current Independent Living Placement with Impact Living Services on her 21st birthday in February. Lacey is currently working on graduating from Germanna Community College and is planning to continue her education by getting her bachelor’s in Human Services and her master’s in Social Work. Lacey is very passionate about working with youth. 

Phone: 804.353.4461 x1504