Eight non–profit agencies led by Youth and Shelter Services (headquartered in Ames) have come together to create a new statewide collaboration known as the Partnership of Iowa Foster Care Youth Councils. The statewide Partnership seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive youth in Iowa. Youth will be trained to become advocates for themselves and others and will also participate in valuable leadership opportunities. Youth will share their personal stories with each other, provide understanding and support for one another, gain life skills necessary to become healthy, independent adults, and build partnerships with adults in the community.
Starting July 1, 2011, the highly regarded program formerly known as Elevate was renamed AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential), a new name selected by Foster Care youth themselves. AMP is maintaining the look and feel of Elevate but now adds involvement and advocacy by eight local non–profit agencies. The Partnership plans to expand the AMP membership and outreach to Foster Care youth throughout Iowa.
Ten AMP Youth Councils have been funded through a grant from the Iowa Department of Human Services. The eight partner agencies are in the process of raising local funds to expand and enhance each local Council. AMP offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance to youth ages 13 and up who have been involved in Foster Care, adoption, or other out–of–home placements. AMP also provides education on various life skills that Foster Care youth need to become self–sufficient, independent adults.
AMP is a youth engagement program summarized by the motto “Nothing about us, without us.” AMP empowers young people to become advocates for themselves and gives them a voice in system–level improvements in child welfare policies and practices. When supported through productive partnerships with adults, youth can be authoritative advocates for making Foster Care more responsive and effective.
The eight partner agencies that are facilitating and leading the statewide Foster Care youth program include: Children’s Square USA (Cherokee, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City Councils), Family Resources (Davenport Council), Foundation two (Cedar Rapids Council), Four Oaks (Waterloo Council), Youth Shelter Care of North Central Iowa (Fort Dodge Council), as well as Youth and Shelter Services (Ames Council) and its branch in Des Moines known as Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (Des Moines Council). The Dubuque Council is overseen by the Community Circle of Care, a program of the University of Iowa. Educational and skill building services are provided to AMP through a collaborative agreement with Children and Families of Iowa.
In addition, the Partnership has links to two consulting agencies including the Youth Policy Institute of Iowa and Community Youth Concepts. The Partnership is networking with other stakeholders including, but not limited to, the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, Iowa KidsNet, the Iowa Aftercare Services Network, and group homes/PMICS and shelters.
The Partnership agencies are offering AMP youth a comprehensive menu of support, community connections, and leadership opportunities in order for them to “Achieve Maximum Potential.” Visit www.ampiowa.org for more information.
AMP Central Council (AMP–CC) is a youth leadership Council providing project oversight for AMP, and continues to be the guiding force within AMP. It is made up of two elected members from each Council. The major responsibility of AMP–CC members is to communicate information from local Councils to staff and to relay information back to their respective Councils.
Council Facilitators may be alumni of the system, supportive community members, or local foster parents, and are responsible for guiding/mentoring the local AMP Council meetings.
Local Support Position is a community person able to transport youth to and from speaking engagements, as well as assist with Council meeting set–up. Safety checks are completed on each person considered for this role. Once these are clear, this person is allowed to volunteer with AMP.
AMP Contract Manager:
Doug Wolfe — Program Planner, Iowa Department of Human Services, ACFS Division
AMP Management Team:
Ruth I. E. Buckels, LMSW — Statewide AMP Coordinator
Terri Bailey — Des Moines and Ames Council Facilitator and AMP Statewide Assistant Coordinator
Cheryl Johnson — Educational/Vocational Coordinator, via contract with Children and Families of Iowa
Terri Johanson — Rosedale/Aftercare Director and Ames Service Area Leader, Youth and Shelter Services, Inc. (YSS) — Lead AMP Agency
1. and 2. Terri Bailey — Ames and Des Moines — Youth and Shelter Services, Inc.
3. Cheryl Ellis — Cherokee/Storm Lake — Children’s Square, Inc.
4. Teanna Smart — Waterloo — Four Oaks, Inc.
5. Amanda Dellwo — Dubuque — University of Iowa
Amanda Reynolds – takes over July 1, 2012, with Hillcrest Family Services
6. Kim Arnold (hiring for this position) — Davenport — Family Resources, Inc.
7. Rachelle DuVall — Cedar Rapids — Foundation 2, Inc.
8. Joni Griffin and Monte Wilson — Council Bluffs — Children’s Square, Inc.
Monte Wilson takes over July 1, 2012.
9. Maria Weydert — Fort Dodge — Youth Shelter Care of North Central Iowa, Inc.
10. Jolene Dixon — Sioux City — Children’s Square, Inc.
AMP Partnership Agencies and Program Supervisors:
1. and 2. Youth and Shelter Services, Inc. — Ruth Buckels
3. Children’s Square, Inc. — Mary Elks
4. Four Oaks, Inc. — Deb Fitkin, Steve Edman
5. University of Iowa — Jill Kluesner, Vickie Miene
6. Family Resources, Inc. — Kim Arnold, Dawn Sturms
7. Foundation 2, Inc. — Carol O’Brien
8. Children’s Square, Inc. — Mary Elks
9. Youth Shelter Care of North Central Iowa, Inc. — Jim Seward
10. Children’s Square, Inc. — Mary Elks
Carol Behrer — Executive Director, Youth Policy Institute of Iowa (YPII)
Amy Croll, LMSW — Executive Director, Community! Youth Concepts (CYC)
What follows is our report to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which covers activities from January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012. You will find our responses to a more specific scope of service requirements outlined in the Contract to Administer the Iowa Foster Care Youth Council.
22.214.171.124 Foster Care Youth Council Local Meeting Locations 7
1.Establish and maintain ten existing local Councils as seen in Attachment A. Ensure there is at least one local Council in each of the five Agency regions (also known as DHS Service Areas). Local Council changes require Agency approval. 8
2.Maintain active membership of at least ten (10) youth per local Council. 8
3.Organize and implement all aspects of local Council meeting arrangements (i.e., site, date/time, refreshments), as well as provide meeting notices and agenda. 8
4.Local Council meetings will occur at least once per month in at least six locations starting July 2011, eight locations no later than September 2011 and ten locations no later than October 2011. Meetings at ten locations shall continue throughout the contract year. 8
5.Develop an Agency approved procedure for establishing a new Local Council and maintaining programmatic consistency among Local Councils by December 1, 2011. 9
6. Bilingual staff or community volunteers shall be provided to translate if requested by clients who are not able to speak fluent English. 9
7.Determine a name for the Iowa Foster Care Youth Council. Participants shall be included in the decision making process and the final name shall be approved by the Agency. 9
126.96.36.199 Youth Development 9
1.Provide on–going recruitment of Council participants ages 13 through 20 years old. 9
2.Develop and implement a strategy for participant recruitment, which is inclusive and effectively draws a diversity of youth. The Council is intended to represent the population of children in Foster Care. Also, the implementation strategy shall address ways the Contractor will reach out to youth in the various placement types (family Foster Care, residential treatment centers, relative placements, institutions, aftercare, etc.). The Council will be youth driven and reflect the racial, cultural, ethnic diversity of youth in Foster Care and provide access to youth from all levels of Foster Care. The strategy shall include recruitment of Foster Care alumni. 12
3.Provide for training as needed for Council participants to assist them in their role as a participant including, but not limited to, training focusing on leadership skills, team building, effective communication (including advocacy skills and healthy disclosure), and accessing and promoting community resources. 13
4.Provide opportunities for each participant to become involved within the Council according to their strengths and interests, through various means which may include writing, speaking engagements, committee work, Council leadership, creation of a website specific to youth in Foster Care, or some other method chosen by the participant(s). 14
5.Provide a means to honor or recognize participants for accomplishments or growth. 15
6.Provide leadership opportunities for participants. 16
7.Provide social/recreational opportunities for participants to encourage social support and to facilitate youth "buy in." 16
8.Link with existing effective youth Councils, advocacy groups, or child serving organizations. 16
9.Design, develop, and host a website for youth using a premium content management system that will allow youth to help manage the website's content. The website will have several components including, but not limited to, an events calendar, feedback, frequently asked questions, and news and press releases. The website shall be available to youth no later than January 1, 2012. 17
188.8.131.52 Youth Engagement in Child Welfare 23
1.Identify youth for representation at Agency workgroups, training (i.e., staff, care providers, key stakeholders), or other venues in which youth input would benefit the development or implementation of child welfare policies and practices. 23
2.Prepare and train all youth who participate in public meetings and presentations to prepare them and to minimize risk to the youth. 25
3.Develop procedure to respond timely to requests for youth input into child welfare and related activities, initiatives, and workgroups. 26
4.Develop and implement a mechanism to compensate youth for time and travel expenses. Compensation and travel payments shall not be limited to participants. Compensation must comply with Agency Travel Guidelines. 27
184.108.40.206 Annual Foster Care Youth Conference 27
1. Provide an annual statewide conference for youth (ages 13 through 20 years old) in Foster Care and Alumni. 27
2. Provide invitations, agenda, arrange presenters, and oversee the entire delivery of the youth conference. 27
3. Partner with other organizations, agencies, youth groups, or advocacy groups as appropriate. 28
220.127.116.11 Reporting of Services Delivered and Outcomes 28
1. Submit semi–annual reports to the Agency, within 30 days of the end of each reporting period, detailing staff activities, status of projects, community connections, recruitment efforts, participant and Facilitator training provided, and opportunities and barriers experienced. All Contractual Deliverables in the Scope of Work shall be reported, as well as performance measures. 28
2.Conduct an agency approved youth survey to measure Council participants' satisfaction of overall Council operation annually and submit to the Agency within thirty days of the end of each annual contract year. The survey will measure participant satisfaction with the Council and effectiveness of Council projects and activities, including training received. 81
3.Develop a procedure for participants to formally offer suggestions and/or register written complaints. Also, notice all participants of their right to do so. 82
18.104.22.168 Quality Assurance and Program Improvement Activities 82
1.Develop and implement an internal continuous quality assurance process using data analysis, process and practice modification, supervision, and other methods. 82
2.Develop and implement a Quality Improvement System which involves input from participants, staff, and collaborating partners. 83
3.Provide access to monthly Clinical Supervision for Local Council Facilitators, volunteers, and leadership staff involved with the Youth Council. 83
4.Conduct and maintain records absent of any Criminal History or Child Abuse for all paid staff and volunteers who work directly with Children and Youth. 84
5.Maintain all programmatic and financial records related to the services funded under this Contract in a secure physical location. 84
6.Will facilitate up to three formal focus groups outside of regular Council meetings in the first year to address a high priority issue(s). The Contractor and the Agency may collaborate to select a topic or topics, with the Agency providing final approval. 84
7.Youth Program Quality Assessment shall be used for all chapters and results will inform quality improvement activities. 87
8.Staff training in cultural competency shall be provided annually. The Contractor shall provide documentation that Council Facilitators and the Statewide Coordinator attend cultural competency training annually. 87
9.Participate in an annual all Contractors' meeting. 87
22.214.171.124 Evidence Based and Promising Practices 87
1.Utilize the federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process and the accompanying Child Welfare Outcomes and indicators. 87
2.Align activities with the Agency's Model of Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Practice and embrace the Family Interaction strategy. 88
3.Develop a program which reflects the racial, cultural, ethnic diversity of youth in Foster Care. 89
4.Develop a program which provides access to youth from all levels of Foster Care. 89
5.Promote significant adult relationships by involving foster parents, biological parents, and other adults as appropriate. 89
6.Utilize youth development methods and approaches that nurture in participants a sense of competency, influence, belonging, and value. 92
7.Engage youth in decision making at all levels, to instill confidence and allow youth to develop leadership experience. 92
1.3.2 Performance Measures 94
1.Performance Measure 1: Youth will develop an Improved Support System. 94
2.Performance Measure 2: Youth will contribute to improvements in the Child Welfare System. 94