February 2022 News

Program Updates

Welcome to the new Central Region IL Consultant

Olivia comes to us from South Dakota. She graduated from Black Hills State University, after majoring in Human Services and Sociology with a minor in Physiology, and set out to follow her dreams of impacting youth in foster care. Olivia aged out of foster care in South Dakota and adopted two children from foster care. She worked for Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota assisting foster youth transitioning to living on their own. She was grateful to find UMFS to continue helping youth become successful adults. In her personal time, she enjoys amusement parks, crafting and playing board games with her family. Olivia brings both professional and lived experience to the team, and officially started on January 31st. Please join us in welcoming Olivia!

Changes to the Ring Central Platform

As anyone who has joined us virtually these past two years knows, we use the Ring Central platform for our virtual meetings. Ring Central has made some updates to their virtual meeting space, to include a new look and different features. You may need to download it again, even if you have done so previously. We will also be utilizing Zoom for some events. After you register for an event, the confirmation email will specify the platform and provide the access link. Reach out to Kelly if you have any questions or access issues.

Upcoming Statewide Events

Tax Basics 101 Workshop

Date: February 8, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. via Zoom
Project LIFE is partnering with Brown, Edwards & Company, L.L.P. to provide a session about taxes to eligible VA youth. This workshop will be led by Project LIFE and 2 certified public accountants from an accounting firm. Youth will learn the basics of completing their taxes, including requirements for filing, what income is taxed, what deductions are available, how withholding works, and more. Please register to attend and reach out to George Mack with questions. Check out our resources page before the session to help give the tricky land of taxes more context.

Week of LIFE [Love is for Everyone]

Dates: February 22-25, 2022 | Times: various times throughout the week via Zoom
Coming back in February, by popular demand, is our Week of LIFE, where LIFE stands for “Love Is For Everyone.” Loving yourself and others can sometimes be challenging. We’re hosting a week of virtual events and activities geared towards both youth and professionals. You can see the topics we’ll go over during the week in the graphic below. However, you only need to register once to attend as many as you want. To make things even easier, there will only be one meeting link!

Talk it Out Tuesdays Remixed

Date: March 15, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. via Ring Central;
continuing the third Tuesday of every month
Talk it out Tuesdays is coming back and is “remixed.” On the third Tuesday of the month, youth can take advantage of a safe space to connect with their peers. Youth can bring their own topics to chat about, or the group can talk about the topic of the month. The first topic series is “Careers and Coins.” Register once and attend as many as you want! (Note: there is a new meeting link as of Feb. 1.) Reach out to Melissa with questions.

Conference Information Coming Soon

We’re sure you’re wondering about the Project LIFE spring conference! Rest assured, we’re working on it and will be ready to share information soon. Thank you for your patience, and please be on the lookout for our next publication.

Upcoming Regional Events

Eastern Region Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting

Date: February 16, 2022 | Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. via Ring Central
All Eastern region DSS agencies and private providers are invited to attend to discuss independent living needs for youth transitioning out of foster care. This meeting will include resource sharing and opportunities for youth in this region. Contact Melissa through email if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting or if you need more information.

Northern Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting

Date: April 19, 2022 | Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. via Ring Central
All Northern DSS agencies and private providers are invited to attend this ILCC to discuss independent living needs for youth transitioning out of foster care. This meeting will be joined by Monica Cabell with VDSS to share statewide updates. Contact George through email or at 804.239.1044 if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting, or if you need more information.

Additional Events and Resources

Statewide VDSS Check-ins

Date: February 15, 2022 | 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. via Ring Central;
continuing the third Tuesday of every month
This check-in call is open to all DSS agencies to discuss independent living needs and updates with the VDSS IL team’s Letha Moore-Jones and Monica Cabell. These meetings will be held every third Tuesday of each month, staring February 15, 2022, and will run through May 17, 2022. You do not need to register for these check-ins. You can click here at the scheduled time to attend virtually, or contact George, through email or at 804.239.1044, to receive the dial in information to join by phone, or if you have any questions. 

Attention Youth: Transportation Assistance Program

There is a new special budget to specifically help eligible youth with transportation needs and fees, like obtaining a driver’s license, vehicle insurance, driver’s education classes and testing fees, practice lessons, practice hours, license fees, and even assistance in purchasing an automobile. If you are a youth already 15 and not yet 23, you may be eligible for this assistance! First contact your local DSS worker and tell them you’re interested in the transportation assistance program. If you get stuck, or you are a worker trying to help your youth and need help, you can reach out to Gwen Castillo at VDSS through her email address.

Statewide SPEAKOUT Teen Advisory Board

Your voice matters! Help improve Virginia’s foster care system and inspire positive change in the lives of others. By joining Virginia’s teen advisory board, SPEAKOUT (Strong Positive Educated Advocates Keen On Understanding the Truth), you can contribute to improvements in foster care policy, create lifelong connections, and serve as an agent of change. The board is accepting applications for more members, and youth in foster care and alumni, aged 15-26 are eligible and encouraged to apply. Learn more here.

Foster Care to Success: National Scholarship for Foster Youth

Foster Care to Success is a national group that helps to provide solutions and and help to youth in foster care around the US. There are several scholarships with open application windows. You won’t want to miss this opportunity! For more information or to apply, visit: https://www.fc2success.org/our-programs/information-for-students/.

Fairfax Virginia Peer Support Groups

Formed Families Forward is hosting youth and young adult peer support groups. These groups, facilitated by professional clinicians, are for youth ages 14-22, and are a chance to share your stories and get support from your peers. They meet two Tuesday evenings a month in Fairfax city. If you are interested in participating, want more info, or have questions, email info@formedfamiliesforward.org or call 703.539.2904.

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