Statewide Conferences

Have you ever felt like no one understands what you’ve been through as a youth in foster care? Does anyone really get what it’s like to keep moving around and how scary it is to turn 18 when you don’t have a family to support you when you’re starting out?

“In conference workshops, we talk about what happens to kids in foster care. You realize these are some of the things that have happened to you. You can share your story with people who have been through what you have been through.”

Project LIFE Participant

Statewide Conferences

A lot of people don’t understand what foster care is really like but those who go to Project LIFE conferences do. Like you, they are youth who are in foster care or have aged out. And, like you, they want to connect with people who get it, who have dealt with the system and have experience making it work for them. You may meet someone who has dealt with just what’s bothering you and knows how to get around it. Or you could be the one who helps someone else, which is a very good feeling.

What happens at the conferences?

The conferences are free for youth and typically run for three days, including a weekend. You will stay overnight, usually at a hotel, and all meals will be provided. Conferences start with ice-breakers, so youth can get to know each other. You’ll have a good time — conferences include fun time like dance parties, dinners, and sometimes trips to the theater. What’s more, at Project LIFE conferences, you’ll get solid information about your rights and the resources available to help you live independently. You’ll learn about the benefits, that can help with managing the challenges of being in care and obtain the skills that can help you excel at whatever you decide to do. How can we be so sure that you’ll come away with new connections and better ideas? Because only youth in foster care who are focused on success come to the conference.

When’s the next Conference?

Spring 2020 Youth Statewide Conference

May 1-3, 2020
YMCA Camp Silver Beach
6272 YMCA Lane, Jamesville, VA

Check-in will run from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. on Friday and departure will be at noon on Sunday.

Youth in foster care ages 14 and older and youth adopted after age 16 are invited to join us for a weekend focused on building relationships and working together to achieve a common goal. Youth will explore various aspects of permanency and identify ways to build positive connections.

The format of this conference will look a little different than past conferences, and will have a more “outdoorsy” feel. Youth will participate in activities including ziplining, kayaking, archery, a high ropes course, field games, basketball, a bonfire, and more.

A conference agenda will be sent out to all attendees prior to the conference.

Click here to view the conference flyer. Feel free to print and distribute to youth, foster parents, DSS staff, and private providers.

How to apply

Give yourself a chance to connect and be a part of this incredible experience.


Youth interested in attending must be:

  1. Between the ages of 14-23
  2. Currently in foster care, receiving foster care/IL services, or adopted after the age of 16
  3. Interested in learning life, leadership, and advocacy skills

Conference Application

Youth who meet the criteria should submit a conference application with the assistance of their LDSS worker. The application includes three sections (to be submitted in any order). Click the links below to access:

  1. Youth Questionnaire – to be filled out by the youth
  2. Registration Form– to be filled out by the LDSS worker or the youth (if the youth is 18 years of age or older)
  3. Character Form – to be filled out by the LDSS worker

If the youth has been adopted, the adoptive parent must complete the application and list their information where it says “Worker” or “LDSS”. Completed applications will be reviewed by Project LIFE staff. Youth will be accepted to the conference based on demonstrated interest in the focus and goals of the conference and recent conduct.

Eighty (80) youth will be accepted to the Fall conference, with the goal of 16 youth representatives from each of the five regions in Virginia.

Registration opens Wednesday, February 12.

The deadline to submit all three portions of the application is Tuesday, March 31.


The conferences are very motivational and very uplifting and very cool. You know that you are not the only person in care, and that you can make it.
— DEVITTA, Project LIFE participant


What other information do I need to know?


Due to decreased staffing, Project LIFE will NOT be providing transportation to and from the conference. It is the responsibility of the youth’s worker or foster parent to transport the youth.


The conference is free of charge to participants. This includes meals, lodging, and all activities.


Attendees will stay in cabins and should expect to share a cabin and bathroom with 4-5 other youth of the same gender. If he/she would like a specific roommate or roommates, that MUST be indicated on the youth’s registration form.


We will have several medication technicians onsite to collect and administer medications to youth throughout the weekend. When registering a youth, please ensure that all of the medication information is listed correctly, including name, dosage, frequency, and the reason for taking the medications. All medications must be in their original containers and labeled with the youth’s name.


Our volunteers are key to making this conference a success. Volunteers generally serve as chaperones and will be responsible for supervising 3-5 youth throughout the weekend. Volunteers are required to stay onsite for the duration of the event. If you are interested in volunteering, email George Mack or call 703.941.9008.


If you have any questions about the conference, email Jamesia Harrison or call 434.846.2002.