March 2022 News

Program Updates

Week of LIFE Events Recap

The Week of LIFE {Love Is For Everyone} was a huge success! Project Life hosted 4 sessions over February 22- February 25. During the week, we provided a variety of content for professionals and youth. Sessions for the week centered on topics such as substance use prevention, human trafficking red flags, sex and technology, and affirmation boards. Through the affirmation board session, adults and youth were able to have fun and use their creative juices to create a board of affirmations to encourage themselves through the down and difficult times in life. Youth from all over the state participated in this virtual event. Thanks to all youth, professionals, and presenters who were able to join us.

Statewide Youth Conference

Statewide Youth Hybrid Conference

Dates: April 29-30, 2022
Richmond, VA,
or attend virtually through Zoom

We’re pleased to announce the details of the 2022 Spring Conference. We are excited to be able to offer a hybrid conference, meaning youth can apply to attend in-person or register to attend virtually. To provide a safe in-person experience, our conference will be on a smaller scale compared to past conferences; space is limited as we will only accept 35 youth across the state. The conference will take place in Richmond, VA, with the exact location to be announced very soon. (Stay tuned to our social media pages!) We will have COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place for all attendees and volunteers. If youth do not attend in-person, they are invited to sign-up for the virtual experience. Some of our in-person sessions will be streamed or available virtually. Please visit our website for more details about applying, volunteering, and more. 

Upcoming Statewide Events

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.

Youth Welfare Approach Trainings for Professionals

Dates: March 23, 2022 and April 13, 2022 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. via Zoom
Local DSS workers and Private providers in the state of Virginia are invited to attend this training, hosted by Project LIFE and facilitated by Chauncey Strong of Strong Training and Consulting, LLC. This interactive workshop, offered on two different days, will highlight practical ways to apply the Youth Welfare Approach in service provision that effectively engage youth to be more actively involved in their case planning. Key concepts will include shifting our lens from Child Welfare to Youth Welfare and utilizing a Good-Better-Best continuum to provide service to youth. Please register to attend and reach out to George Mack with questions.

Upcoming Regional Events

Eastern Region hosts “Advocating for my Needs” 8 Week Virtual Series

Dates: March 8 – April 13, 2022 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and continuing each Wednesday via Zoom
Project LIFE is partnering with Betsy Perez, ODU PhD student and former school counselor, to host an 8 week series for youth on mental health. It will be a small group of youth that will focus on building essential mental health skills for life. The series is called, “Advocating for my needs: A How To Guide.” The series will run from March 8th through April 13th. Register here. Contact Melissa if you have questions or need more information. Youth outside of the region are also invited to attend and can register or reach out to Melissa.

Eastern Region’s Healthy Relationships Workshop with VLPP

Date: March 16, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. via Ring Central
The Virginia League of Planned Parenthood is joining Project LIFE to present a session on healthy relationships. Youth will be given an overview of signs of a healthy relationship/friendship, participate in a discussion about desirable qualities in a partner/friend, and learn about healthy boundaries. Register by contacting Melissa through email if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting, or if you need more information. Youth outside of the region are also invited to attend and can reach out to Melissa.

Western Region Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting

Date: March, 2022 | TBD via zoom
Keep your calendars open!! IL Consultant Aros will be hosting an ILCC meeting in March. All Western region DSS agencies and private providers are invited to attend and discuss independent living needs for youth transitioning out of foster care. The date/time has not been set yet. Aros will send out more information soon, so keep an eye out for that! As always, please reach out to Aros if you have any questions thoughts. 

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

Virtual “Taking the Lead Youth Summit”

Date: March 5, 2022 | 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Taking the Lead Youth Summit is designed to empower youth ages 11-19. The conference will address topics on mental health, addition, COVID-19 and overcoming and surviving challenging times. A parent’s corner session will be available for parents/guardians. Contact Jamesia for more information about registration.  

Statewide VDSS Check-ins

Date: March 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 (TAP)

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.

Sign Up to Host an EMC College Night Event

It is not too late to sign up to host an ECMC College Nights event! Events can take place virtually or in person now through April 30, 2022. This is a great opportunity to prepare your students and families for college. Plus, your students will have a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship! ECMC provides (at no cost to you): 
•    ECMC’s Opportunities booklets
•    PowerPoint presentation (includes complete speaker’s notes)
•    Site host guide (includes everything you need to know to plan and host an event)
•    Train-the-trainer webinar
•    Customizable marketing materials available for download
•    Presentation guides and sign-in sheet
To host an ECMC College Nights event, sign up HERE at least 30 days prior to your anticipated event date. For more details about ECMC College Nights, visit www.collegenights.org. For questions regarding College Nights, email collegenights@ecmc.org.

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