NH DHHS - New Hampshire Foster Youth Convene For Independent Living Conference “Taking Charge of the Game of LIFE”

Concord, NH – Over 100 youth from around the State gathered at Plymouth

State University on Thursday to participate in the Seventh Annual Division

for Children Youth and Families (DCYF) and Division of Juvenile Justice

Services (DJJS) Teen Conference. The conference is an all-day learning

experience designed to address the unique needs of older adolescents making

the transition from “out of home care” to adulthood and independence.

“We look forward to this conference every year,” said Department of Health

and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas, “not only for the

wonderful experiences it provides for our youth, but also because it’s a

great opportunity for us to partner with organizations that are focused on

the future of our youth, including NH Teen Voices.”

The theme of this year’s conference was “Taking Charge of the Game of LIFE”

reflecting the vision and goals of the teenage participants. Co- sponsors

included NH Teen Voices, the University of New Hampshire Center for

Professional Excellence in Child Welfare, the New Hampshire Higher

Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) and the Upreach Therapeutic Riding

Center. NH Teen Voices is a youth advisory board made up of current and

former teens in state care ages 14 –20.

Youth leaders from NH Teen Voices partnered with DCYF Adolescent Workers to

lead attendees through a variety of fun and skill building activities.

There were a number of workshops geared toward providing youth attendees

with helpful information on topics such as choosing a career path, having

healthy relationships, navigating the college admissions process and

obtaining an apartment. There was also an opportunity for youth to network,

and learn about resources to assist them as they transition to adulthood.

There was a talent show featuring youth showcasing their singing, acting

and dancing abilities and a dinner during which awards were given to youth

and adults that had the most significant positive impact on youth in foster

care. DCYF/DJJS Director Maggie Bishop conducted a town hall style meeting

and answered questions from the youth.

“This conference highlights the message that youth need to and should have

a say in their future,” said Director Bishop. “Over the past few years

DCYF and DJJS have supported initiatives that involved youth in addressing

the issues affecting their lives. It’s critical for child welfare agencies

to examine their relationships with youth, and assure that they have a true

voice. This conference emphasizes the importance of the youth’s voice in

the work we do on their behalf.”