Project LIFE is seeking applications from youth all over Virginia from youth interested in being a media ambassador. This opportunity will engage youth in future content projects created by the Project LIFE team. Selected youth will work closely with our Youth Development Coordinator to create social media content appealing to young people in the foster care system in Virginia. Interested in making a difference in this way? Click our button below to learn more.
Statewide Youth Conference
Level UP! 2022 Fall Statewide Youth Conference
Dates: November 11-13, 2022 | Time: Friday-Sunday, for youth in-person in Roanoke or via Zoom
We’re pleased to announce the details of the 2022 Fall Hybrid Conference. Plan to Level Up your adulting skills with us in Roanoke, VA. Youth aged 14-21 who live in Virginia, and are or have been in foster care, are invited to apply. We will level up our IL skills through fun workshops all weekend. To provide a safe in-person experience, we will have safety strategies in place for all attendees, volunteers, and facilitators, including health questionnaires. Learn more on our website.
Registration opened 8/15/22. Wondering how to apply or register and who needs to fill out which forms? It depends on how you want to attend! Attendees 18 and up can register online to attend virtually (level 1) or apply online to attend in-person (level 2). For attendees not yet 18, work with your LDSS worker to get these forms completed. See our graphic below for more details. These links and details are on our website.
Additionally, our volunteer application form is open and we are looking for dedicated adults to help us in all sorts of ways. Please consider applying. Applications close early September.
Upcoming Statewide Events
Talk it Out Tuesdays Remixed
Date: September 20, 2022 | Time: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. for youth via Ring Central and continuing the third Tuesday of every month
(RETURNING TO EVENINGS.) Talk it out Tuesdays is 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 August 25, 2022.) Reach out to Melissa with questions.
Virtual Driving Prep Session: “Things To Know Before You Go”
Dates: September 21 + 22, 2022 | Times: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for youth via Ring Central
All PL youth are invited to join us for virtual driving support sessions. A driving instructor from AAPEX Driving School will cover DMV traffic signs and commonly missed test questions, as well as answer attendee questions. Different information will be offered at each session, so choose the one that best fits your schedule, or come to as many as you want for additional practice. Register using the button below, or contact Melissa.
New Parent Baby Showers by Molina
Any Virginia youth, aged 14-23, who has experienced foster care and is a
parent, or soon to be parent, to a young child is invited to attend. Molina
Healthcare of VA will shower the parent attendees with practical items
to use with their child. They will also go over resources for the parents. Register using the button below to attend the closest one to you.
Northern Region Baby Shower
Date: September 27, 2022 | Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person in NOVA; location TBA
Contact George with questions.
Central Region Baby Shower
Date: September 28, 2022 | Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person at UMFS, 3900 West Broad St., Richmond
Note: this is overlapping with the last “Parenting Together” group. Contact Olivia with questions.
Eastern Region Baby Shower
Date: September 29, 2022 | Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person at 5612 Haden Road, VA Beach
Contact Melissa with questions.
Upcoming Regional Events
Fostering Community Meetings
The Central region is introducing Fostering Community meetings! Youth 14 to 23 years old, who are or were in foster care, are invited to join Project LIFE at their local library each month to learn adulting skills and hang out with others in their community. Activities will be decided by the first individual to arrive. Contact Olivia through email or by text at 804.239.1239 to RSVP or to get a Fostering Community Meeting set up near you.
RVA Fostering Community Meeting
Date: September 1, 2022 and continuing the first Thursday of the month | Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person at the RVA West End Library.
Petersburg Fostering Community Meeting
Date: September 8, 2022 and continuing the second Thursday of the month | Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person at Petersburg Public Library
Fredericksburg Fostering Community Meeting
Date: September 28, 2022 and continuing the fourth Wednesday of the month | Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for youth close enough to attend in-person at the Fredericksburg Public Library
Central Region’s Wealth Wednesdays
Date: September 7, 2022 and continuing the first Wednesday of the month | Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. for Youth at UMFS, 3900 West Broad St., 23230
Youth are invited to learn about building lifelong wealth. Youth will review their spending from last month, make goals for next month and receive rewards for meeting their goals. If you would like to attend, or have other questions, please contact Olivia through email or by text at 804.239.1239.
Western Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting
Date: September 14, 2022 | Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for professionals via Ring Central
All Western 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 cover topics related to transitioning youth into adulthood. Go ahead and mark your calendars for the upcoming year’s meetings: December 14 and March 8. Contact Aros through email at email@example.com or if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting, or if you need more information.
Eastern Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting
Date: September 14, 2022 | Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for professionals via Ring Central
All Eastern 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 cover topics related to transitioning youth into adulthood. Contact Melissa through email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting, or if you need more information.
Eastern Region’s Guys Group Interest Meeting
Date: September 14, 2022 | Time: 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. for youth via Ring Central
Young men in the Eastern Region are invited to a virtual interest meeting for a group that is in development in collaboration with Virginia Beach DHS and Hampton DSS. Bring ideas and suggestions to the planning meeting. Contact email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or BDrakefo@vbgov.com for the session’s link.
Central Region’s Hybrid Home Rental Session “Finding a Place to Make a Home”
Date: September 21, 2022 | Time: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. for youth via Microsoft Teams or at UMFS, 3900 West Broad St., Richmond, VA
Find a place to make a home! Youth will learn about searching for an affordable rental place, the application process, and a renter’s rights and responsibilities. Join in-person at UMFS or from your computer. Please register online if you would like to attend. If you have other questions, please contact Olivia through email or by text at 804.239.1239.
Central Region’s Parenting Together Group
Date: September 28, 2022 | Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for youth at UMFS, 3900 West Broad St., Richmond, VA
(NOTE: this overlaps with the baby shower.) Any Virginia youth, aged 14-23, who has experienced foster care and is a parent, or soon to be parent, to a young child is invited to attend this three-part series. (If you did not attend the first one, you are still invited to register for and attend the second and third sessions.) This group will learn together in a safe space while relating with other peers in the same stage. Attendees can bring their child(ren) with them to this group, and will be connected to resources, local experts, and prizes/gifts. This event will also be available virtually. If you would like to attend online, or have other questions, please contact Olivia (email@example.com).
Central Region’s Hybrid Officer Chat
Date: October 6, 2022 | Time: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. for youth via Microsoft Teams or at UMFS, 3900 West Broad St., Richmond, VA
Lt. Alley from the Henrico County Police Department (HCPD) will be presenting to youth across VA. Youth will be taught their rights “they live under” as citizens, about policing and laws, as well as about pedestrian approaches and traffic stops. Lt. Alley will provide dinner for in-person registered attendees. Please register online before September 29 if you would like to attend. If you have other questions, please contact Olivia through email or by text at 804.239.1239.
Central Region’s Career Readiness Bootcamp
Dates: October 11 + 13, 2022 | Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily for youth at Career Works, 4914 Radford Ave., RVA 23230
Project LIFE partnered with Career works to offer youth 18 to 23 a two-day Career Readiness Bootcamp. Youth will learn about finding a job, keeping it and the value of communication and networking. Youth will then be given the opportunity to sign up for support from Career Works in developing a career to support them for a life time. Register using the button below; space is limited. Contact Olivia with questions.
Northern Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting
Date: October 18, 2022 | Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. for professionals 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 cover topics related to transitioning youth into adulthood and will be joined by Monica Cabell with VDSS to share statewide updates. Contact George through email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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: September 6, 2022 and continuing the first Tuesday of every month | Time: 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for professionals via Ring Central
These check-in calls are 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 first Tuesday of each month, starting September 6, 2022, and will run through November 1, 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 at email@example.com or at 804.239.1044 to receive the dial in information to join by phone, or if you have any questions.
Young Invincibles HIL Workshop
Date: September 22, 2022 | Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for youth and professionals via Zoom
Young Invincibles is hosting a Health Insurance Literacy (or HIL as we like to call it) workshop on September 22nd, from 2pm-3pm via zoom. We would like to welcome you and anyone you know who would benefit from learning more about health insurance. Topics covered will include: Health Insurance basics, Prescription drug coverage, ACA and Medicaid coverage , Essential Health Benefits and more. Click here to download a flyer with additional information. Please register here. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Iesha Young, Virginia Engagement Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern VA Housing Resource
Are you 18-21 and want to live somewhere beautiful? Impact Living Services has an IL site in Harrisonburg, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. We are looking for fresh faces of IL youth and have several apartments all set up, ready and waiting! Please contact Site Supervisor Becky Bonds at email@example.com or by phone at 540- 830-1891 to apply. We would love to consider you!
Repost: Youth Exit Survey
The following information was originally posted by VDSS, and Project LIFE is sharing it with their permission.
The purpose of this broadcast is to provide an update on the status of the Youth Exit Survey (YES) initiative and request assistance from the local departments of social services (LDSS) to increase youth participation in taking the survey.
In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), in collaboration with the Virginia Commission on Youth, to develop and administer a survey to gather feedback from young people exiting Virginia’s foster care system. The object of this survey is to hear directly from older youth about their relationships, resources, activities, and overall experiences while in foster care. The YES is currently the only active statewide survey initiative soliciting feedback directly from young people aging out of foster care. As such, it is an important way to hear from youth about what is working and what can be improved in the Virginia’s foster care system.
Youth become eligible to take the YES when they turn 18 years of age. Each month, VDSS provides LDSS with a list of eligible youth at their agency, as well as YES informational flyers personalized for each eligible youth. Flyers include a link to the online survey, which has 34 questions and takes 10—15 minutes to complete. Participation in the survey is voluntary, responses are anonymous, and VDSS provides a $20 gift card incentive to eligible youth who choose to participate.
From July 2019 through December 2021, a total of 1,021 young people were eligible to participate in the YES. During the same period, VDSS received responses from 109 participants, or roughly 11% of all eligible youth. Participation rates have been trending downward in recent months.
The percentages below show the overall rate of YES participation for eligible youth in each region:
Western – 13%; Central – 12%; Piedmont – 11%; Northern – 11%; Eastern – 5%.
Please see the July 2022 Division of Family Services e-blast for preliminary analyses of YES response data. The e-blast publication provides an overview of youths’ responses to exit survey questions concerning (i) the development of Independent Living skills; (ii) experiences with LDSS workers; and (iii) reflections on foster care and the transition to adulthood.
VDSS values youth voice and needs LDSS help to raise the statewide YES participation rate! Note that LDSS workers are not responsible for administering the survey or collecting response data. Worker roles are limited to explaining the survey and distributing personalized survey informational flyers to eligible youth. However, VDSS strongly encourages LDSS to implement strategies to ensure that YES information and materials are effectively disseminated to eligible youth.
VDSS acknowledges that several LDSS have been working hard to encourage participation in the YES, providing eligibility notifications and personalized flyers to their eligible youth. VDSS is most grateful for the continued dedication and hard work of the local workers, without whom the YES would be extremely difficult to administer.
Please direct questions and requests for technical assistance to John Gyourko, Youth Services Program Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org ; 804-971-7660) or Letha Moore-Jones, State IL Coordinator & Youth Services Supervisor (email@example.com ; 804-726-7576).