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On June 17, 2011, youth in foster care across South Carolina gathered in Columbia to kick off NYTD, a federal study of the transition from foster care to adulthood. During the SCDSS conference, 367 youth attended workshops on topics such as healthy living, money management, and technology etiquette and safety. They interacted with college admissions counselors from across the state and explored careers at a job fair.

The  J’Ouvert steel band entertained youth and adults during lunch. At the graduate ceremony, 54 youth were honored with a certificate for graduating from high school or an institution of higher learning. Chaundra Fletcher from DSS Lancaster County received the 2011 “Our Champion Award” for being an outstanding caseworker for teens.

Members of GOALL, the SCDSS youth advisory committee, introduced workshop leaders and spoke about life in foster care. The president of GOALL, Faith Slater, delivered the keynote address. Adults who accompanied youth attended some of the same workshops as the youth and learned about NYTD.

NYTD (National Youth in Transition Database) is actually a two-pronged study. The federal government is interested in

  • Tracking the independent living services that youth receive
  • Surveying youth at ages 17, 19, and 21 about their transition to adulthood

The NYTD Team has been raising awareness about the study. At the NYTD Kickoff, Monique Mitchell, Toni Jones, and Terri Pope presented the NYTD workshop for adult participants. Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Jones have been presenting around the state, including at the statewide conference sponsored by the South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services in Myrtle Beach in January of 2011.

Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Cynthia Flynn also presented “NYTD, Not Just a Data Collection: Partnering with SCFPA to Enhance Connections for Youth Transitioning out of Care” to the South Carolina Foster Parents Association in Greenville on April 9, 2011.

The NYTD Kickoff is part of the push to improve independent living services for youth in foster care. Improved services should help youth achieve better outcomes once they transition to adulthood.

The South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services held its annual conference in Myrtle Beach, SC, January 28 – February 1. CCFS experts presented three powerful and informative workshops at the statewide conference for group home and family services providers.

“NYTD, Not Just a Data Collection: Partnering with SCACHFS to Enhance Connections for Youth Transitioning Out of Care”—Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, and Toni Jones, MSW, addressed the National Youth in Transition Database, a federal study of the services that youth in foster care receive. Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Jones emphasized the critical part that congregate care staff play in making NYTD a success.

“Faulty Circuits: Understanding the Effect of Trauma on the Developing Brain”—Caroline Davis, MEd, discussed trauma that children experience before entering care and its effects on normal growth and development. Participants learned how trauma may be responsible for challenging behaviors and received helpful strategies for dealing with some of the most common challenges.

“Life in a Group Home”—GOALL, the SCDSS youth-led advisory board, engaged the audience in an impactful panel discussion of what life is like living in a group home. The youth were open and insightful, and they had a profound effect on the 180 workshop participants. “The GOALL youth are so inspiring and enlightening!” one participant exclaimed. Kaye Randall, MSW, a training and development director at CCFS, facilitates the GOALL group.

The South Carolina Citizen Review Panel hosted the 10th Annual National Citizen Review Panel Conference, May 18–20, in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. It was the first time hosting the national conference for this group of citizen volunteers who advocate on behalf of youth in foster care. The event was attended by 125 people from 25 states and as far away as Hawaii.

The conference theme was “A Force for Change.” Speakers and presenters encouraged participants to be a force for change in the lives of children who are a part of the foster care system.

Preceding the conference, Parents Anonymous® of South Carolina, Inc., sponsored a “meet and greet” on the Marriott’s rooftop terrace. The conference keynote speaker was Troy Strother, Executive Director of Parents Anonymous® of South Carolina, Inc. During the conference, members were greeted by

  • the Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Mayor of Charleston
  • Anton Gunn, U.S .Department of Health and Human Services Region 4 Director
  • Randy Scott, City of Columbia Police Chief and CRP member
  • Mary Williams, DSS Director of Program Improvement

Al Miller, of Sights and Insights Tours, entertained the audience with information about the Gullah-Geechie culture. Conferees also enjoyed dinner, dancing, and sailing along the Charleston Harbor during the Spiritline Cruise after-hours event.

Conference Chair and SCCRP coordinator Cheryl Worrell, as well as many conference attendees, commended the CCFS team, Caroline Davis, Hattie Greene, Sheila Lilly, Brittany Rice, Kiona Washington, and Kaye Randall, for their part in ensuring a great conference experience and providing “good ol’ Southern hospitality.”

Joan Dickinson, Director for the SC Department of Education, Office of Youth Services, Jennifer Green, Program Coordinator at the SC Department of Education, Office of Youth Services, and Rechelle Paranal, Research Associate at The Center for Child and Family Studies presented at the 17th Annual National Forum on Character Education, in San Francisco, CA on October 29th 2010. Their session entitled “A State of Good Character” addressed the lessons learned from the federally funded, state-wide initiative that was administered in SC high schools over the past three years.

Dr. HayesDr. Hayes Named South Carolina Citizen Review Panel Person of the Year On October 28, 2010, the South Carolina Citizen Review Panel (CRP) held its Fall Retreat at the Clarion Hotel in Columbia. This year the group named its first Citizen Review Panel Person of the Year. The Panel unanimously agreed to award this special honor to Dr. Kathleen Hayes, State Director for the SC Department of Social Services. Dr. Hayes was recognized for her commitment to children and collaboration with the Panels. She initiated a process whereby Panel recommendations for improvements to the child protective services system are presented to DSS during the course of the year. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires CRP to present its recommendations annually and child welfare agencies to respond within six months of receipt of the recommendations. Dr. Hayes’ collaborative approach to working with the Panel on a regular bimonthly basis, allows for Panel ideas that benefit children to go into effect much sooner than the normal process. Some examples of ideas brought forward by the Panel include the revision and reimplementation of the Health and Education Passport, changes to the DSS website regarding mandated reporters, and the development of a Kinship Care brochure that spells out the rights and responsibilities of these providers. The CRP appreciates Dr. Hayes’ continued efforts on behalf of the children of South Carolina.

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