NH DHHS - New Hampshire Foster Youth Convene For Independent Living Conference The “When Life’s not FAIR”

Concord, NH – More than a 100 youth from all over New Hampshire gathered at

Keene State College to participate in the Eighth Annual Division for

Children Youth and Families (DCYF) Teen Conference. The conference was 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


“We want our youth to be as successful as possible,” said New Hampshire

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas.

“This conference is an opportunity to bring teens together, share

experiences and help equip them with some of the tools they will need as

they begin to prepare for the future.”

The theme of this year’s conference was the “When Life’s Not FAIR” as

selected by the NH Youth Voices. Co- sponsors included NH Youth Voices, the

University of New Hampshire Center for Professional Excellence in Child

Welfare, and the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation

(NHHEAF). The keynote presentation was Digital Stories, a unique way for

youth in care to tell their story through the use of images, pictures,

music and their own narration. The stories were created in collaboration

with the National Resource Center for Permanency at the Hunter College

School of Social Work. There were a number of workshops geared toward

providing youth attendees with helpful information on topics such as

getting a job, self advocacy, navigating the college admissions process and

staying safe online. There was also an opportunity for youth to network,

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

“It is incredibly important that we engage our youth as they plan for the

future,” said DHHS’ Director of the Division of Children, Youth and

Families, Maggie Bishop. “This conference is an opportunity for us to talk

with teens about issues that are important to their future success. We

want them to realize how important it is that we work together, and that

they are a valued part of the system that is working on their behalf.”

During the conference, Director Bishop signed the DCYF’s Youth in Care Bill

of Rights. These rights are intended to guide DCYF and its provider in the

delivery of care and services to youth in out-of-home care with the

commitment to permanency, safety and well-being. These rights provide

youth with a “voice” regarding their DCYF involvement while ensuring

opportunities for normal life experiences. Director Bishop also signed the

New England Youth Coalition’s Sibling Bill of Rights which formally

recognize the value of sibling relationships and reinforce DCYF’s

commitment to preserve these important connections for children and youth

in State care. The New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioner

and Directors (NEACWCD) and the New England Youth Coalition (NEYC) created

the Sibling Bill of Rights together. NEYC serves as an advisory group to

NEACWCD identifying systemic issues that need to be improved from the

perspective of youth in care.