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Exciting News For Youth In Foster Care!

We are thrilled to share the news with you that the Foster Youth College Success Initiative made it into the New York State 2015-16 budget with a $1.5 million allocation attached to it!!! 

The Fostering Youth Success Alliance (FYSA), a coalition of 75 community-based organizations from every corner of New York State, has been at work for nearly a year advocating for the governor's office and state legislators in New York to join the 22 other states that provide robust supports to help youth to enroll in and graduate from college.


Across New York, there are approximately 4,000 college-age youth in the foster care system. Studies have shown that these young people attend college at a third the rate of the general population. And just 2-7 percent will ever earn their degree. Bridging the Gap: From Foster Care to College Success in New York, authored by the Community Service Society of New York, outlined best practices on a success initiative for youth in care and a cost-benefit analysis to show the state that fiscal benefit far exceeds the cost of educating individual students.


The funding allocated will create access to college for youth in foster care by expanding access to Educational Opportunity Programs at public and independent colleges, and providing the critical financial aid to offset the gaps between the cost of attendance and current financial aid programs.


Specifically, this initiative will provide support services to assist youth in foster care as they apply to, enroll in, and succeed in college. Funding will be available to eligible public and private institutions of higher education for the following purposes:

  • To provide additional services and expenses to expand opportunities through existing post-secondary opportunity programs (EOP and HEOP) at the State University of New York, the City University of New York, and other degree-granting higher education institutions for foster youth;
  • To provide any necessary supplemental financial aid for foster youth which may include the cost of tuition and fees, books, transportation, and other expenses as determined by the commissioner to be necessary for such foster youth to attend college;
  • Summer college preparation programs to help foster youth transition to college, prepare them to navigate on-campus systems, and provide preparation in reading, writing, and mathematics for foster youth who need it; or
  • Advisement, tutoring, and academic assistance for foster youth.

This is an enormous first step, but it's not enough to provide support to all of the youth in care who might be interested in getting their college degrees. We look forward to working with all of you to demonstrate the value of this program and to convince our leaders in Albany to extend this program even further. 


Meet Our New Hudson River Regional Youth Partner!

Hi! My name is Domonica Jeffress. March is my first month as the Youth Power! Hudson River Regional Youth Partner. I am so excited to be a part of this team and get to know all of you members and allies.


I first learned about YP! In 2010 when I was interning at the Professional Development Program's Child Welfare Department through the Office of Children and Family Services. YP! was involved in many of the same committees and attended many of the same meetings. Little did I know that 5 years later I would be working as YP!'s RYP!


My experience with systems comes from growing up in the foster care and receiving mental health services. Growing up, I was involved in many doctor appointments, service planning meetings and court hearings that I was completely shut out from. I was unaware of what was going on and the outcomes. It was not until my late teens that I finally had a judge ask me what I wanted and thought, and that was one of my first experiences advocating for myself.


Through the rest of my teen years until the time I aged out at 21, and then after, I was able to develop skills to better advocate for myself and others. I now get to be a part of a team of people who strive to make youth voice the norm not only on an individual level but on systematic levels as well. I look forward to being able to meet young people who have the drive to speak up and make change. I also look forward to meeting individuals who have the power to take the drive to the next level and help make it possible! 


Domonica can be reached at and 518-322-2096. 


YP! welcomes Domonica to our family! 


Meet Our New Network Assistant!

My name is Marquis Hodge-Humphreys and I am the Network Assistant at YOUTH POWER!. Growing up in a low income family and as a volunteer, I have experience in both perspectives of helping our community. At home my mother did the best she could with what opportunities that were granted to us. Raising three young children as a single mother, she worked long hours when a stable support for supervising us was available. When she was unable to work we relied on federal and state services for food, housing, and basic necessities. Volunteers did everything from providing us with meals to brightening our lives with events. In some instances, we relied on donations to provide the help we needed in order to survive.


As a child in foster care I was a volunteer. I dressed as a clown named Mr. Marbles. I did magic tricks that left some of my peers in awe and others with burning curiosity yelling with healthy aggression, "How did you do that?!". My face paint, red nose, big shoes and balloon animals attracted the crowd and when I left, they left smiling and laughing with their new favorite dog (or sword or even flying mouse!). I was taught that "laughter is the best medicine" and with the tools of my trade I did my best to spread that laughter to my audience, to my peers, and to myself. While raising spirits and promoting happiness, we raised money to help and support those in need.


Since joining YOUTH POWER! I found that we have very similar ideals to that; we work towards a happier future and spread the message of hope to all of our peers. We orchestrate events that promote laughter and understanding for an entire network of young people in New York State, and beyond. More than that we organize ourselves into a close knit, statewide community while positioning ourselves with the collective intelligence and determination we share that enables us to challenge and change our future for the better.


Marquis can be reached at and 518-432-0333 ext. 27. 


YP! welcomes Marquis to our family.


YP! is Hiring: NYC RYP


  • Must have personal life experience accessing children's mental health services and be willing to share this information publicly. Additional experience with Disability, Foster Care, Addiction, or Juvenile Justice is beneficial.
  • Experience as a Youth Peer Advocate strongly preferred
  • Bachelor's or Associates Degree preferred but not required
  • Must be able to travel


  • Independently motivated
  • Excellent coordination and organization skills
  • Experience with youth leadership and advocacy
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to engage with diverse groups
  • Demonstrated ability to speak with small and large groups of people
  • Experience with various software packages: Microsoft Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Go-To, Google applications 



Register for YP! Statewide events!

Third Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness Day

two ribbons. one purple and one greenMay 28, 2015

11am- 2pm

Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6


Join youth and families in raising awareness and spreading hope for youth in foster care and those who have social, emotional and behavioral challenges.


Register Here


University of YOUTH POWER!

Class of 2015: A New Generation of ADA Leaders

collage of several UYP14 pictures. including student speakers, hope spreaders, classrooms, leaders' dinner and gradutation.  

June 15-18, 2015

Albany, New York, College of Saint Rose





University of YOUTH POWER! (UYP) is a for-youth-by-youth social justice conference that is modeled after a college experience.  Young people ages 18 to 30 may register with a major of Peer Advocacy or Systems Advocacy.  UYP will take place in Albany New York at the College of Saint Rose.  Resident students will be provided overnight accommodations in the apartment style dormitory as well as meals on campus.


University of YOUTH POWER! is a broad social justice event focused on increasing skills of young leaders. We will include professors from the following fields of work: Disability Rights, Mental Health, Addiction, Foster Care, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Independent Living and More!


In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) UYP15 will include a variety of classes and activities focused on the rights and history of the ADA. UYP aims to empower and educate a New Generation of ADA Leaders.


Click here for more UYP15 information.


Click here to register.



Western Regional Youth Forum
May 13, 2015

WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it Join YOUTH POWER! in the first Regional Youth Forum of 2015!  This year YP! will be asking a set of questions in each forum so that we can hear what is and is not working in New York systems, services and communities.  This information will be used to form the next YP! Priority Agenda.  Young people can make systems change and together as the YOUTH POWER! Network we will ensure the voices of young people are heard.


May 13, 2015


White House Lodge, 255 Holt Rd Webster NY 14580


For more information or to RSVP contact Jessica Hollins:


Phone: 585-314-2452 



SAMHSA's Voice Awards

Join SAMHSA's Voice Awards program in recognizing consumer/peer leaders and television and film professionals whose work and personal stories of resilience are educating the public about behavioral health.

If you know of a consumer/peer leader who has made outstanding contributions in all of the following areas, please nominate that person for a 2015 Voice Award.

  • Personally demonstrated that recovery is real and possible
  • Led efforts to reduce the prejudice and discrimination associated with behavioral health conditions
  • Made a positive impact on communities, workplaces, or schools

Similarly, if you know of a television or film production that aired in a public setting after April 15, 2014, that contains a positive behavioral health storyline, please nominate it for a 2015 Voice Award.

Nominations are open to anyone. There is no limit to the number of nominations an individual can submit, and self-nominations are welcome.

The Voice Awards program defines "consumer/peer leader" broadly as a person who has received or is receiving services for a mental and/or substance use disorder.


2015 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience 

The Shadow Experience is an all-expenses paid opportunity for young people with personal experience in the foster care system to spend time with their Congressional representative, as well as White House officials, in Washington, D.C.  The dates of associated travel and events are Monday, May 18th through Thursday, May 21st, 2015. 

Participating in the Shadow Experience allows youth and policymakers to meet and learn from one another. Young people in and from foster care will be able to speak to and learn about Congress and the White House while gaining a "hands-on" understanding about how the U.S. government operates on a daily basis. Members of Congress are able to listen to the stories of young people and gain a well-rounded understanding of the experiences of youth in foster care, which will help them as they pursue policies that impact all foster youth. 
EligibilityIndividuals who are eligible to participate meet the following criteria:
  • Will be 18-24 years old on May 20th, 2015 
  • Spent time in an out-of-home placement (foster care, group home, kinship home, etc.) 
  • Have a willingness to play a leadership role for youth and alumni of foster care
The Shadow Experience Interest Form Deadline is March 27, 2015. Forms received by that deadline will be the first considered for placements in the Shadow Experience Program.



The Families Together Annual Conference Is Approaching
The FTNYS annual conference is full of exciting interactive opportunities including: educational workshops, an empowering keynote address, networking, a family dance, a popular auction, great exhibitors and wonderful food. This fun and empowering event only happens once a year!

This year's conference has something for everyone! 

The Youth Track, planned and delivered by the YOUTH POWER! network, offering workshops that are selected and delivered for and by young people to help build self-help and advocacy skills. The Youth Track is created for young people ages 12 - 25.

The Partner Track, designed for adults and youth to come together to unite and connect with each other, address topics that are of interest to both adults and youth, and make plans together to work together to improve the system.

The Family & Advocate Track, a great track for parents, caregivers, educators, staff and advocates. The Family & Advocate Track was developed based on what is important to you, the children and youth in your life, your family and your network.

The Leadership Track, created to address the needs of individuals who are in leadership roles and who work in the local, regional and statewide network.
Why Share Your Story? BY: Alexander Frisina


Why share your story? Well because when done correctly it can not only instill a feeling of hope in the listeners but also empower you. Sometimes it is hard, it brings back feelings you never wanted to revisit and situations you would rather forget. By recalling these times of darkness and hopelessness you can see just how far you have really come. From a feeling of darkness to the ability to shine light on someone else that's facing similar struggles.


There are major factors of sharing your story that are overlooked, first you must be ready, by ready I mean at a point in your story you feel comfortable about sharing. Never feel you have to share because someone is sharing with you or asking you to share. This is your story, and you have the right to decide when it gets told. Secondly you must make sure you're strategically sharing, giving listeners the information they need to see how far you have come and have a positive take away from your story but not giving them details that could prove harmful. Lastly understand timing, not everyone in every situation wants to hear your whole story. I know that sounds harsh but fact is there is a time and place for everything. A stranger on the bus might not need to know your complete life story, so understand your audience and the point you're trying to convey.


Here on Long Island we have a Speakers Bureau that tells their stories to help spread hope. But you can get involved no matter where you are via Instagram. Take pictures that you feel show HOPE, whether it be a quote, a poster with the word HOPE, or something you saw that made you feel hopefully; you can share it on Instagram with the hashtags #YPHOPE, #YouthVoice and #YouthPower. Lastly follow our Hope Spreaders on Instagram @YPspreadsHope to stay connected. We look forward to seeing your pictures and remember - "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope." - Martin Luther


For more information on Strategic Sharing contact your Regional Youth Partner

New York City, Phone: 347-880-2735

Long Island, Phone: 631-245-5289

Central, Phone: 315-679-1476

Western, Phone:  585-314-2452

Hudson River, Phone: 518-322-2096

Youth In Foster Care: Medicaid to 26

 Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), youth who have aged-out of foster care - when they were 18 or older - are now eligible for Medicaid until they turn 26.  And once enrolled, youth will not have to reapply for Medicaid until they turn 26. That means no paper work, no renewals, and no interruption in health insurance. Youth will also not need to provide any income information when applying, as this benefit is not based on how much you earn.


Youth who were in foster care outside of New York State, but now live in New York, are also eligible. New York is one of a few states that have agreed to provide coverage to all former foster care youth, even if they were in foster care in another state.


Schuyler Center has developed materials to help youth and service providers understand and access the benefit.  For more information, and to access these materials, visit:   


Schuyler Center has also launched a survey for young people who are currently in foster care and or have aged out foster care. This survey is to collect data that help to analyze how aware youth in foster care or transition from foster care are of this opportunity. 


To take this survey click here: 
On the Spectrum? Join ASAN NY 

If you  identify as autistic there is a great new opportunity for you. A few members of YP! have started up a New York State Chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).  ASAN's mission is to provide a strong network for autistic self-advocates to build off one another and work together to improve the system for autistics all over the country. This statewide chapter plans to improve autistic voice all over New York State. We are looking to include members from all over the state in this new initiative.


If you are interested in joining this new and exciting chapter, contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ex. 14


Regional Teams Are Recruiting!
in a region near YOUth YP! is currently looking for young people who want to make something happen for the youth movement in their region. Currently all YP! Regional Youth Partners (RYP) are recruiting for their regional teams. As a member of the regional team you get to plan your regional forums, lead regional campaigns and projects, connect with other young people and network youth groups across the state.

To join a regional Team you must be a YP! member. Membership Link

If you are interested please contact your Regional Youth Partner.

If you are unsure of your region visit our website at this link.

The views and opinions expressed in third party messages and external links included in this eNews are those of the organization or individual mentioned. They do not necessarily reflect the official positions of YOUTH POWER!.
YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve. Nothing About Us Without Us!

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