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 December 2014




Youth Thrive National Network Needs You!


We are looking for a few volunteers – specifically representatives from the exemplary initiatives and young leaders – who are interested in participating on a new Steering Committee for the Youth Thrive National Network. Initially, the Network will be comprised of: the 15 exemplary initiatives selected and recognized by Youth Thrive, the sites/jurisdictions that are implementing Youth Thrive and other advocates and experts who are allies of Youth Thrive. We want the activities of the Network to be responsive to your interests and challenges, as well as to build on your many individual and organizational strengths.  Serving on the Youth Thrive National Network’s Steering Committee will entail:

  • providing leadership and consistent guidance on building the Network
  • participating in monthly conference calls lasting approximately 60 minutes
  • advising on the structure and activities of the Network going forward
  • reviewing and commenting on Youth Thrive documents and tools
  • being available by email for occasional feedback to Youth Thrive staff

Please let us know by December 23, 2014 if you are willing and able to serve on the Network’s Steering Committee by sending an email to

leonard burton

Leonard Burton

leonard burton

Francie Zimmerman (left) with two Youth Thrive young leaders, Kaysie Getty and Ashley Kuber.


Youth Thrive Welcomes New Staff

We are delighted to share that Leonard Burton has joined the staff of the Center for the Study of Social Policy as a Senior Fellow and will be working extensively on the Youth Thrive initiative. Many of you know Burton from his leadership at the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative where he served as chief operating officer and directed all day-to-day functions of the national organization. His background in child welfare includes senior management positions with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, where he was a key leader in laying the foundation for reforming Tennessee’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. He was directly involved in reducing reliance on congregate care, qualitatively improving engagement with families, and spearheading a new model of casework practice. For Youth Thrive, Burton will lead our work with jurisdictions.

We are also pleased to announce that Francie Zimmerman, who has been working with Youth Thrive as a consultant over the past year, joined CSSP as a staff member in September 2014. She will be responsible for staffing the National Network, as well as working on other Youth Thrive and Strengthening Families activities.

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Congratulations to our friends at My Life Project, one of the Youth Thrive exemplary initiatives, based at Portland State University. My Life Project recently received funding from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research for its new Project FUTURES initiative.

Project FUTURES will work to address a critical need: increasing the enrollment and retention of youth who have been in the child welfare system or have mental health issues in higher education – a vital step to transitioning into adulthood.




Enacted on September 29, 2014, the new federal Preventing Sex Trafficking Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) expands opportunities for youth in foster care to participate in developmentally appropriate activities, such as field trips, sleepovers and other extracurricular activities. The law requires states to support the healthy development of youth in care through implementing a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” for decisions made by a foster parent or a designated official for a child care institution.

Check out CSSP’s brief on Promoting well-being through the reasonable and prudent parent standard at: Implementing H.R. 4980

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Do you have information or ideas you would like to share with the Youth Thrive Network? Such as an:

  • Invitation to participate in an upcoming conference, training or webinar?
  • Link to a new report, resource or tool?
  • Question or challenge that you need help solving?  

Please send any items you would like included in the next Youth Thrive eConnection newsletter to: We look forward to hearing from you and wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

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cssp logo Center for the Study of Social Policy
Youth Thrive is a multi-year initiative that examines how foster youth can be supported in ways that advance healthy development and well-being and reduce the impact of negative life experiences.