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. The conferences focus on leadership and advocacy. You’ll have a good time — conferences include fun time like dance parties, dinners, and sometimes trips to the theater.

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’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 pay your bills and 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?

Channel Your Champion

Spring 2018 Youth Statewide Conference

May 18-20, 2018
The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center

901 Prices Fork Road Blacksburg, VA 24061  


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

This conference will focus on advocacy. Participants will learn about advocacy, ways to use your voice effectively, leadership opportunities, and more.

Workshop topics may include:

  • Public Speaking Participants will learn public speaking, and to prepare and deliver a speech
  • Communicating Effectively – Participants will learn how to communicate effectively with their peers and adults
  • Advocating Effectively – Participants will learn how to be an effective advocate for themselves and others

A conference agenda, including the finalized workshop topics, will be sent out to all attendees prior to the conference.

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 14-21; or
  2. Currently in foster care or adopted after the age of 16
  3. Interested in networking and advocacy

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):

  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.

The deadline to submit all three sections of the application is Monday, April 9, 2018 by 5:00pm.

Seventy (70) youth will be accepted to the May conference, with the goal of 14 youth representatives from each of the five regions in Virginia. Workers will be notified by Friday, April 20, 2017 of whether or not the youth has been accepted to attend the conference.

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. Youth are welcome to bring cash for the hotel snack bar, but it is not required or necessary.


Attendees will stay in hotel rooms, and should expect to share a room and bathroom with one other youth of the same gender. If he/she would like a specific roommate, 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, contact George Mack or call 703.941.9008.


If you have any questions about the conference, contact Keara Chambers or call 804.239.1066.

“Project LIFE Youth Conferences are great avenues for youth to be around other young people who have been in foster care. They can learn some great things that will help them further their development.”

M.Ed. Virginia Department of Social Services Independent Living Program Specialist