I had the pleasure of joining over 100 foster youth from across the Commonwealth at the 13th Annual Department of Children and Families’ Foster Youth Summit. I was joined by Health and Human Services’ Secretary Polanowicz and David Dirks of BNY Mellon, our event sponsors.
The annual youth summit provides DCF with the opportunity to bring young men and women in foster care, ages 16 and older, together for a day of learning and relationship building, providing them with the support and guidance they need as they prepare for their future. The summit offers workshops on financial literacy, higher education, career options, housing, fitness, cyber safety and safe living. However, even more important is what the youth learn from one another – seeing each other’s successes, learning from their peers, and feeling the support of DCF staff, mentors, and leaders like Secretary Polanowicz and David Dirks of BNY Mellon.
The annual event is organized by DCF in collaboration with members of the Department’s Youth Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is comprised of young adults in out-of-home placement who contribute ideas and recommendations to DCF regarding services, policy and best practices.
We are so proud of our youth in foster care and all that they do. This year, we proudly celebrated the academic achievements of 572 DCF foster youth who are part of the Class of 2013. Of the graduates, 491 are completing High School and 81 are receiving a post-secondary degree. For many of these young men and women, the DCF road does not end here. We encourage youth turning 18 to voluntarily sign into care with the Department so that we may continue providing them with assistance and services, but most importantly support and guidance as they enter adulthood. We currently have over 1,700 men and women over the age of 18 receiving services from the Department, and that number continues to grow each year.
Supporting our foster youth is one of our most important jobs here at the Department and we are proud to celebrate and help prepare them as they begin to make their transitions to adulthood.
Acting Commissioner, Department of Children and Families