The 22nd annual Teen Conference for Youth in Care was held on June 19th at the University of Maine Orono. The theme for this conference was “Dream-Lead-Celebrate.” Over 100 participants attended, including presenters, staff, caseworkers, youth and care providers from across the state. The day included workshops focused on knowing and telling your story, exploring change and transition, permanency, family relationships, and planning for education and career.
An inspiring keynote address was delivered by Angie Cross, an alumna of the Canadian foster care system. She talked about the power of youth voice and how each story can contribute to meaningful lasting system change.
In the afternoon, participants split into regional groups and discussed issues of older youth transitioning from the child welfare system to young adulthood: what is going well and what worries youth the most.
The day ended with each break out group presenting key themes to a listening panel made up of Therese Cahill-Low, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, and Dianna Walters, former youth in care. Young people were also able to express their hopes, fears and recommendations about the YLAT changes. The group presentations were thoughtful and generated some excellent recommendations that will be shared with individuals supporting older youth.
This was another successful Teen Conference, a day filled with learning, fun, great food and most importantly, inspiration from the youth who shared their concerns, ideas, hopes and dreams for themselves and other youth in care.