Transition-Age Foster Youth Get Plugged Into Resources
The fourth season of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare podcast series features Dr. Elizabeth Wynter as our guest host. Dr. Wynter is the Executive Director for the Selfless Love Foundation, a non-profit organization that powers One Voice IMPAACT, Florida's Youth Voice Movement.
We bring this special series because we know that youth transitioning out of the foster care system need the same support and resources that all young people need but face a much steeper climb on their journey to adulthood. These six episodes explore Florida's array of services specifically designed for youth and young adults that have experienced foster care. The services and supports go beyond the resources to survive day to day but can truly be used as the foundation for success.
Listen to find out more and help us make sure our transition-age foster youth get plugged in.
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Guests: Stephanie Savely
Stephanie Savely is the founder of LYFT Learning, a self-sustaining social enterprise, and the lead architect of Life Skills Reimagined. She has 25 years’ experience in the fields of change management, strategic communication, and adult learning, primarily consulting to Fortune 500 companies. She is a contributing author to The Social Cognitive Neuroscience of Leading Organizational Change (Routledge, 2016) and speaks regularly on topics related to Change Management and the Neuroscience of Working with Adolescents. She is a founding board member of the Varner Foundation for Children and Families (Cincinnati, OH), and The Homestead, a residential refuge for victims of human trafficking, located on her family’s fourth generation farm in Nebraska. Stephanie holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Xavier University.
Kaitlynn Hanson graduated with honors from Brandon High School and is currently enrolled at the University of South Florida, majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship. After obtaining her Bachelor's Degree, Kaitlynn plans to pursue a Master's Degree and Doctorate. In addition to being a full-time student, Kaitlynn works in the service industry and advocates for her statewide peers in the foster care system and youth in her home community. Kaitlynn is a member of Camelot's Tampa Bay Youth Empowerment Board.
LOVE LIFE SKILLS
If you are a young person with lived foster care experience on the journey to becoming a self-sufficient adult, get the low down on why Life Skills Reimagined is the most innovative curriculum and should be available to all transition age foster youth. In this episode of Get Plugged In, hear what Kaitlynn Hanson, a member of Camelot’s Tampa Bay Youth Empowerment Board, and Stephanie Savely, Founder of LYFT Learning, have to say about this easily accessible and very engaging online platform.
“It doesn't matter where you've been; you can change where you're going” — Hanson
Guest: Brandie McCabe
Brandie McCabe is the Director of Youth Initiatives for the Selfless Love Foundation and Chair of Florida’s statutorily mandated Independent Living Services Advisory Council. Formerly the statewide Youth and Young Adult Transition Services Specialist in the Office of Child Welfare with Florida Department of Children and Families, Brandie has spent the last 5 years focused on improving the implementation of policies and operation of services impacting the transition age population.
John Watson is a founding member and Senior Advisor of the Brevard Youth Leadership Council (BYLC). He currently works with Selfless Love Foundation’s One Voice IMPAACT initiative as the Youth Council Specialist, utilizing his five years of lived experience in care along with his connections in the community to promote the development of young leaders. John coordinates meetings with child welfare professionals alongside his peers in the interest of promoting youth councils locally and across the state. He hopes to continue his work in Florida as he advances his career in child welfare as an advocate for youth “voice and choice”. John received his associate’s degree from Eastern Florida State College in 2020 and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.
Psst…if you haven’t already heard, young people can cash in on the Division X Chafee federal funds. These funds were made available to states to help with the pandemic relief efforts. Hear from John Watson, Youth Council Specialist with OVI, and Brandie McCabe, Director of Youth Initiatives with Selfless Love Foundation, on the educational incentive money and additional financial assistance available to eligible former foster youth.
"For the incentive category, those young adults ages 18 to 22 participating in extended foster care or post-secondary education services and supports are also eligible for a payment for being enrolled in school and making academic progress." — Watson
Guests: Keri Flynn
Keri Flynn serves as the Director of Youth Services for Embrace Families CBC. She has over 20 years of experience in child welfare in the Central Florida area. She has had other roles within the agency including the promotion of the organization in the Community Relations department, leading the Agency’s County Board, and she was a key leader in the creation and transition of the agency during the privatization of child welfare in Florida. Prior to joining CBC, Keri served the children of Central Florida through the Department of Children and Families. She received her bachelor's degree in family and child sciences from Florida State University and a masters of nonprofit management at the University of Central Florida. She resides in Seminole County with her husband and three children.
Demarco Mott is a former foster youth from Miami, Florida. Demarco received his Associates degree from Miami Dade College, Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Florida International University, and a Masters of Business Administration with an International Business concentration. Demarco leads Citrus Health Network’s Youth Advisory Council.
AGING IN TO STAY PLUGGED IN
You gotta’ know about the resources available through Florida’s independent living programs before you turn 18. Listen to this episode of the Get Plugged In series to learn about Extended Foster Care (EFC) and Postsecondary Education Services and Support (PESS). Get the scoop on how remaining in foster care after 18 and taking advantage of PESS can assist young adults in reaching their transition goals, preparing for self-sufficiency. Hear from Demarco Mott, Chair of the Citrus FCN Youth Advocacy Council and Keri Flynn, Embrace Families’ Director of Youth Services.
“I would say to my brothers and sisters, be open to ask tough questions, ask all the questions now, take advantage.” — Mott
Guest: Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson currently serves as Senior Program Director of Academic Support and Engagement at Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement at Florida State University. Her work includes identifying and addressing emotional, social, academic, and health factors inhibiting the well-being of a diverse student population. Ms. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology as well as a Master of Social Work from Florida State University. She received the prestigious 2018 Child Welfare Champion Award from the State of Florida Department of Children and Families. Ms. Jackson serves as a Co-Principal Investigator on a longitudinal study assessing the post-graduation challenges of Unconquered Scholars Program graduates. Ms. Jackson has served as an adjunct instructor at the Florida State University College of Social Work and on the University’s Mental Health Strategic Health Team. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Florida and provides counseling services through her private practice.
Dina Santos is a sophomore at Florida State College at Jacksonville, studying to become a counseling psychologist in hopes to open a nonprofit organization that offers much needed resources for youth in foster care. She has a leadership role on Family Support Services of North Florida’s Youth Advisory Board called Passport to Leadership and has been selected as a finalist Selfless Love Foundation’s 2022 Dream Tank Competition.
TUITION WAIVER TO 28!
That’s right! Young people with lived foster care experience may be eligible to have their postsecondary education tuition covered. Listen to this episode of the Get Plugged In to learn how to access this incredible benefit available to former foster youth. Get the facts from Dina Santos, a member of Passport to Leadership Youth Advisory Board and sophomore at Florida State College at Jacksonville, and Lisa Jackson, Senior Program Director of Academic Support & Engagement at Florida State University.
"So when I was 17, I was on the brink of becoming homeless and I didn't think school even like, I didn't think college would even be an option for me. And once I sat down with a group, like my foster care agency, they explained the tuition waiver to me and it changed my entire life." — Santos
GuestS: Patricia Grogan
Patricia Grogan serves as Director of Policy and Programs for the Economic Self Sufficiency Program with the Florida Department of Children and Families. She previously served as the Director of the Refugee Program. Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Grogan served as a State Senator representing Brevard and Osceola Counties, and as a Florida Parole Commissioner. Ms. Grogan was an Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellow in Public Policy in 2008 and is an adjunct faculty member at Florida State University. Ms. Grogan holds a B.A. in Political Science from The American University in Washington, D.C. and a Masters in Public Administration from The University of Central Florida.
Rayla James is a youth advocate actively working to promote positive changes both in her community and state-wide. She serves on a leadership board in her area, the Brevard Youth Leadership Council, pushing for youth voice and choice within the care system. Rayla aged out of the Florida foster care system at eighteen and is now a full-time college student working towards her goals with the support of many mentors. As a former foster youth, she is very grateful for the access to resources provided by the Department of Children and Families. Rayla hopes all youth take advantage of their support as they act as a crutch for youth like her, who do not have support from biological parents. Rayla has an Associate in Arts degree from Eastern Florida State College and is a senior at the University of Central Florida working towards a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
All young people with lived foster care experience and child welfare professionals listen up! This episode of the Getting Plugged In series is one you don’t want to miss. Get tips on getting food assistance through ACCESS Florida from Rayla James, President of the Brevard Youth Leadership Council, and Patti Grogan, Director of Policy and Programs with the Office of Economic Self-Sufficiency.
“In the times that I have had SNAP assistance, it's been very beneficial to me and helped me get through hard times and help stick to my budget.” — James
GuestS: Jennifer Edgson
Jennifer Edgson is a Registered Nurse, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Certified Case Manager. She is currently employed as the Healthcare Consultant for Community Based Care Integrated Health, partner of Sunshine Health. Prior to that, she was the supervisor of the WATCH Primary Care Program in Sarasota, FL and has eighteen years of cumulative care coordination/case management experience. Jennifer is originally from Connecticut. She completed multiple assignments throughout the country as a Traveling Nurse before settling in Sarasota in 2000. When she is not at work, she can be found at the baseball field or the tennis courts, supporting and cheering on her sons.
Diamond Whitley is the Youth Engagement Specialist with Selfless Love Foundation, assisting in the One Voice IMPAACT Youth Voice Movement across Florida. She leverages her lived foster care experience to improve the child welfare system, advocating for her peers. She is a full-time student at University of Central Florida, majoring in psychology. Diamond’s goal is to have a prosperous career in therapy.
STAY HEALTHY & WISE
Listen to this episode of the Get Plugged In series to gain wisdom and insight on accessing healthcare services so that former foster youth are better equipped to maintain their physical and emotional well-being. Diamond Whitley, OVI’s Youth Engagement Specialist, and Jenn Edgson, Healthcare Consultant with Community Based Care Integrated Health, share some tips.
“You want to get established with a primary care provider. They need to know what your baseline is. They want to keep you healthy.” — Edgson