Every year the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative brings together youth and adult partners from around Maine to celebrate the year’s achievements and milestones.
MYTC’s fourth annual celebration dinner was held at the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern on May 13, 2014. Over seventy young adults, adult partners, professionals, legislators, adoptive families, and friends came together for an evening of fun, renewed connections, learning, and good food.
The evening began with celebrating the signing into law of LD 1683: An Act To Improve Degree and Career Attainment for Former Foster Children. This legislation will support youth in care with higher education through the age of 26. Maine is now the first state in the nation to support youth in care beyond the age of 20. Comments about this milestone legislation were offered by Therese Cahill Low, Director of the Office of Child & Family Services; Seth Berry, Maine House Majority Leader who introduced the legislation; and Lynn Tiede, Policy Director for the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.
The importance of mentors in the lives of young people was the theme for the evening. The keynote speaker, Colby Swettberg, Executive Director of Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring in Boston, was introduced by Jacob Hills. Ms. Swettberg talked about what good mentor-mentee relationships look like for youth in foster care and led a discussion about best practices and challenges to bringing youth and mentors together.
The 2014 honoree was Chris Northrop from the Maine School of Law who has mentored a young man throughout his life, from youth to adulthood. Besides being a mentor, Chris is a leading authority in the area of juvenile lawand a founder of the New England Juvenile Defender Center. In 2006 Chris launched the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Maine Law.
On May 9, 2013 over fifty young adults, adult partners, professionals, legislators, and friends came together for an energizing evening at the Collaborative’s third annual celebration dinner at the Maple Hill Farm Inn in Hallowell, ME.
The evening centered on the viewing of and panel discussion about two digital stores created by Maine youth and their adult allies; the stories illustrate the experiences of both youth and adults as the youth transitioned from the foster care system.
The evening’s program also included an introduction of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s Success Beyond 18 media campaign; this campaign encourages all states to take the next step in extending foster care and related services to young people as they become young adults into their early 20’s. Maine has offered extended care to age 21 for a long time, but MYTC is considering recommending that care be extended to age 23.
Finally, Mark Millar, formerly of Casey Family Services in Portland, was recognized for his long-term support and active contribution to the MYTC and to youth in Maine transitioning from the foster care system. Click Here to watch Maine’s youth digital stories
The 2012 dinner included guest presenter, Maine’s own, Dianna Walters from Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative (JCYOI). Dianna presented the findings of a report published by JCYOI entitled The Adolescent Brain: New Research and Its Implications for Young People Transitioning from Foster Care. Honorees at the 2012 event included Meg Callaway, Geoff Titherington, and Lakesha Shelton.