Department of Human Resources provides supports for teens transitioning from foster care

17th annual teen conference convened on campus of Frostburg State University


BALTIMORE (JUNE 28, 2011) – In Maryland, there are approximately 4,141 youth in foster care over the age of 14.  The Maryland Department of Human Resources has aggressively implemented an initiative, “Youth Matters,” to involve older youth in every decision that affects them.  The annual teen conference provides one such opportunity. 

 A major vehicle for teen input is the Youth Advisory Board.  A board, comprised of foster youth and lead by independent living coordinators, is located in each local department of social services. There is also a state board, comprised of representatives from the local boards.  The State Youth Advisory Board (YAB)   empowers youth to have a positive effect in their communities, encourages them to develop skills necessary for independent living and leadership development, and reviews State and Federal legislation that may effect their transition out of the foster care system.  Under the direction of the state independent living coordinator and local department of social services independent living coordinators, the yab developed a two-day agenda for the annual conference. 

 “I am continually impressed by these young people,” said Sherlema Quick, State Independent Living Coordinator.  “They are not only keenly aware, but are also hungry for the knowledge and skills required to succeed as independent adults in this competitive environment.”

Youth Advisory Board members from around the state.

 This year’s conference was held on June 24-25, 2011 and included over 100 youth, ages 14-18, from across the state.  They converged on the campus of Frostburg State University for a weekend packed full of fun, entertainment, helpful tips and information that would prove useful as they navigate their way through their teen years and move on to become productive, successful adults.

 The conference opened with icebreaker activities led by local independent living coordinators.  The youth were then given a tour of Frostburg State’s beautiful campus.  Later that evening, advisory board LIFE’s president, Camron Ellerbee and vice-president, Dondrea Robinson, hosted a banquet for the conference attendees and acknowledged one another, as well as, the staff that provided them with support. 

 A very forward-thinking and informative agenda was planned for the weekend.  Four local youth advisory boards led workshops.  Workshop titles included; “What Comes Next” led by Baltimore City; “Banding Together” led by the Lower Shore; “Good Foods for Less” led by Prince George’s County; and “Ride or Die Relationships” led by the Mid Shore.  Other workshops included substance abuse awareness, securing employment, obtaining higher education, human trafficking, financial literacy, and health.


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