Project LIFE meets at PVCC

Jake DeLaurier, staff writer

On March 18 and 19, 2017, the youth advisory council for Virginia, called SPEAKOUT (Strong Positive Educated Advocates Keen On Understanding the Truth), held their second meeting to continue developing the foundation of the group. SPEAKOUT serves as a participant for the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and is comprised of youth and young adults in foster care from around the state who are passionate about generating change in the foster care system. The group plans to work on various projects and provide feedback on policies that impact young people in foster care throughout Virginia.

Project LIFE, a partnership with VDSS and United Methodist Family Services, was also present at the meeting to provide support and guidance to the council members. The mission of Project LIFE is to enhance the successful transition of older youth in foster care to adulthood by providing the skills and tools they need to become positive, productive citizens. This is important because according to Children’s Rights.org, over 670,000 children spent time in foster care in 2015.

Photography by Jake DeLaurier

Photography by Jake DeLaurier

At the meeting was Project Manager Talia Brown who has been a part of Project LIFE for five years. “It’s important to help youth in the foster care system because they are like any other young adult – they can benefit from support in all areas of their lives in order to be successful,” said Brown.

Brown also hopes to get rid of stereotypes that are often associated with youth in foster care. “There are misconstrued ideas about foster care. There is a stigma that often exists that kids in the foster care system are bad kids,” said Brown. She went on to say that the youth she works with are smart, passionate, gifted young people who have endless potential, and with a little support, they can greatly impact their communities and those around them.

Since its beginning in 2009, Project LIFE has served close to 2,000 young people. According to Brown, one of the biggest accomplishments of Project LIFE is “seeing young people succeed who have come from difficult situations.”

One person that has been helped by Project LIFE is Brittney who has participated in the program for four years. “I have gotten a lot of experience from Project LIFE,” said Brittney. She then went on to say how each social service agency in Virginia does things differently and how foster care laws differ.

The example that Britney used was if someone in foster care wanted to stay over at someone’s house, the rules at one agency may differ from those of another. She hopes SPEAKOUT will serve as an avenue for young people to provide their thoughts on issues like this and provide a way to generate change for youth in the foster care system.


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Posted by on May 4 2017. Filed under Campus News, Collegiate News, Events, From the Forum, Local News, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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