We will kick off the new fiscal year with our first DREAM Council meeting being hosted by Chilton County DHR  on October 17, 2015 from 10a-2p. Please visit www.ilconnect.org  for more details.
If you have questions, please contact Synethia Davis (205-943-5354). Thanks for your attention to this matter and we look forward to seeing your county represented at our kick off meeting.



For the past 27 months, BRL staff, board members, volunteers and supporters have worked tirelessly to renovate our space which is now 75% complete. Once complete, BRLHQ will serve as a hub for innovation, collaboration and service to further develop and expand our mission to help youth heal, grow and lead. We are asking for your support to complete BRLHQ and help us achieve our goal. Visit www.brl-inc.org/HQ.

A Message from The Independent Living Program

A Message from The Independent Living Program.

Youth voices: Life after foster care -Full length version

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption produces an interview  about life after foster care.

Teaching At-Risk Youth in Trauma-Sensitive Education Environment

Each year, roughly 25,000 young people age out of foster care in the United States without a legally binding, permanent relationship with a family. Youths are said to age out of care, or emancipate, when they are forced to exit foster care due to reaching the age of majority, which is anywhere from 18 to 21 years of age depending on the state. From 2000 to 2009, the number of youths aging out of care increased by 46%, and though the number has finally begun to decrease over the past five years, youth emancipation continues to represent one in 10 exits from foster care (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2013).
Because aged-out youths often lack concrete resources and social supports, they are at risk for a number of adverse outcomes, including increased rates of unemployment, low educational attainment, reliance on public assistance, behavioral health symptomology, poor physical health, homelessness, unplanned pregnancy, and criminal justice involvement (Courtney, Dworsky, Cusick, Havlicek, Perez, & Keller, 2007). In fact, the most statistically at-risk youths in the United States today are former foster youths who have aged out of the child welfare system (Muller-Ravett & Jacobs, 2012). The Jim Casey Youth Initiative estimates that on average, for every young person who ages out, taxpayers and communities pay $300,000 in social costs over that person's lifetime. With approximately 25,000 young people aging out each year, this amounts to roughly $7.5 billion in total costs.

— Allison E. Thompson, MSS, LSW, is a doctoral student in the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice.
— Johanna K. P. Greeson, PhD, MSS, MLSP, is an assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice.
Avery, R. J., & Freundlich, M. (2009). You're all grown up now: Termination of foster care support at age 18. Journal of Adolescence, 32(2), 247-257.
Courtney, M. E., Dworsky, A., Cusick, G. R., Havlicek, J., Perez, A., & Keller, T. (2007). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 21. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.
Greeson, J. K. P. (2013). Foster youth and the transition to adulthood: The theoretical and conceptual basis for natural mentoring. Emerging Adulthood, 1(1), 40-51.
Greeson, J. K. P., Garcia, A. R., Kim, M., & Courtney, M. E. (2014). Foster youth and social support: The first RCT of independent living services. Research on Social Work Practice, DOI: 10.1177/1049731514534900.
Greeson, J. K. P., Thompson, A. E., & Kinnevy, S. (2014). Natural mentoring of older foster care youths: Behavioral health benefits. Social Work Today, 14(4), 10-13.
Muller-Ravett, S., & Jacobs, E. J. (2012). After foster care and juvenile justice: A preview of the Youth Villages' transitional living evaluation (policy brief). MDRC. Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.mdrc.org/publication/after-foster-care-and-juvenile-justice.
Samuels, G. M. (2009). Ambiguous loss of home: The experience of familial (im)permanence among young adults with foster care backgrounds. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(12), 1229-1239.
Semanchin-Jones, A. S., & LaLiberte, T. (2013). Measuring youth connections: A component of relational permanence for foster youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), 509-517.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2013). Administration for children and families, administration on children, youth and families, children's bureau. The AFCARS report—Preliminary FY 2012 Estimates as of July 31, 2013 (No.20).

We Can Do Better Than This: The Foster Care Bill of Rights

On Wednesday, August 5, 2015 I watched Governor Jack Markell of Delaware sign into law HB46, the state's Foster Care Bill of Rights.
As Governor Markell signed the bill surrounded by current and former foster youth, I began to read through the copy given to me when I arrived. Though I was certainly thrilled to see this happening and moved by the genuine care Markell expressed for the young people around him, I was a bit stunned when I got to the details. To read more on this story by Danielle Gletow  CLICK HERE.                                                                       

9 Tips for Raising a Teen Who Won't Move Back Home After He's Moved Out

They’re known as boomerang kids – the ones who move out at 18 only to return to Mom and Dad’s house a few years later when they’re financially strapped. For many families, supporting an adult child takes an emotional and financial toll.
Over the last four decades there’s been a slow but steady increase in young adults moving back home. In 2012, 36% of young adults ages 18 to 31 were living in their parents’ homes, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey. To read more on this article from Amy Morin CLICK HERE.

Pushing Foster Care Into National Consciousness

Everyday, we hear about issues -- ranging from fights over dresses to fights overseas. Yet, lacking are the tales of America's downtrodden -- those most vulnerable. At the forefront of that group are children and young adults, namely foster and former foster youth. While we hear of their stories, they have not yet entered our everyday conversation or concern.
Usually, the stories of foster care at the front page of the newspaper are reactionary. The stories are reactions to the latest group home tragedy, the foster parent who abused a child, and so on. While they all add to the conversation, they do nothing to continue it. The knowledge of foster care shown by mass-media is piecemeal, giving us glimpses into the lives of these youth, while hardly ever providing a base to continue the conversation.

To read more on this story from Matt Hartman CLICK HERE.

Education Support Map for Foster Students

Thanks to Western Michigan University Center for Fostering Success (link is external) and Casey Family Programs (link is external), the National Postsecondary Support Map (link is external) provides foster youth links and information on:

  • State Tuition Waivers
  • Statewide Education Support Programs
  • 4 year Campus-based Support Programs
They will be continually updating, so check back often!

To view more of the map CLICK HERE.

Governor Bentley Holds Ceremonial Bill Signing for Fostering Hope Scholarship Act

MONTGOMERY — Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday held a ceremonial bill signing for Alabama’s Fostering Hope Scholarship Act, which will offer people currently or formerly in Alabama’s foster care program the opportunity to receive a college education. There are approximately 5,000 children in Alabama’s foster care system, and the scholarship program could help provide scholarships to hundreds of people a year.

“Fostering Hope Scholarships will provide foster children the opportunity for a better future by attending any two- year, four-year or technical institution in Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “We owe it to our children to give them every possible opportunity for a successful life, and this bill helps those in the foster care system prepare for success. I commend the Legislature, specifically bill sponsors Senator Dick Brewbaker and Representative Paul Lee, for passing this important bill.”

Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, Senate Bill 157 will, contingent on funding, provide eligible participants with:

Tuition and required fees at any public two-year or four-year institution of higher education in the state of Alabama, or
Payment for required fees for state-provided job training courses or skill certifications.
A mentor service administered by the Department of Human Resources as a support system for participants in the scholarship program
SB 157 was sponsored by State Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Pike Road) and State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan).

“The Fostering Hope Scholarship Act gives foster kids a real opportunity at the American dream,” Senator Dick Brewbaker said. “The bill levels the playing field for kids who have been dealt a tough hand at a very young age. I was proud to sponsor this legislation in the Senate and believe it will have a dramatic and positive impact on foster children in Alabama.”

“Every child in Alabama deserves access to a quality education and a chance at a bright future, and this bill gives our foster children the opportunity to pursue those options,” Representative Lee said. “I’m proud to be able to sponsor this important legislation that could be life-changing for these children.”

The Alabama Department of Human Resources will develop and administer the scholarship program. Funding will depend on the Legislature and Governor. In the 2015 Regular Session, lawmakers and Governor Bentley set aside $3 million for the program when they passed and signed into law Senate Bill 182, a supplemental appropriation bill by State Senator Trip Pittman, R-Montrose.

“I commend Governor Bentley, Senator Brewbaker, Representative Lee and all legislators who helped to pass the Fostering Hope Scholarship Act,” DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner said. “This legislation will provide hope for a better future to those in our foster care system. It is very important to our older youth in foster care, and it is my hope that it will help encourage families who are considering adopting older youth to do so.”

Governor Bentley signed SB157 into law on May 5, 2015

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