Many youth who have been in foster care age out (reach the age of majority within the stateâ€™s support programs, commonly known as Independent Living) of the child welfare system without the cushioning most of us enjoy from family and friends as we take our first tentative steps into adult-level responsibilities. They may have little or no permanent family or connections (e.g., extended families, friends, mentors, church community, or memberships in other groups), practical know-how learned through family and community, or financial support, into their late teens and early twenties. The normal ups and downs of life can become crises when there is no one to turn to. Who checks in with themâ€”daily, weekly, monthly? Who shows them the way? Who catches them when they fall?
An example of JBSâ€™s commitment to helping vulnerable families thrive is our Child Welfare Compliance Reviews Team and its monitoring of The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), a federal reporting system that collects information on youth transitioning out of foster care. Our NYTD Reviewers are between the ages of 18 and 26 and have lived experience within the child welfare system. A small group of reviewers and a support coach participate as members of the federal monitoring team for each onsite phase of the NYTD Reviews. JBS provides them with annual training, mentoring, coaching, advocacy, and a support system.
We provide a variety of support services for our NYTD Reviewersâ€”ongoing email and text communications; a quarterly newsletter with skill-building information; trainings with smaller group breakouts formed to help them network and build relationships/connections; and much more. Support Coaches promoted from the group can provide an added layer of peer mentorship and a career path for their professional growth.
Our NYTD staff are committed to providing an open, safe space for all NYTD Reviewers. Reflecting the foster care community at large, our NYTD Reviewer â€śconsultant poolâ€ť includes a large percentage of people of color and also includes those who self-identify as LGBTQ, including one person who went through a gender transition while serving as a NYTD Reviewer. Led by our NYTD Reviewers, the NYTD staff members now include preferred pronouns when they introduce themselves in all settings. We celebrate their life journeys along with them and help them through difficult times as able.