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YSS partners with FLIA to improve foster care youth outreach

Last year, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) partnered with YSS to distribute $5 million in pandemic relief to former and current Iowa foster care youth. The funds will help with expenses such as housing, education, and transportation.

To locate young adults who are eligible for the funds, YSS sought assistance from Future Leaders in Action (FLIA). The organization, which has collaborated with YSS on multiple projects over the years, places FLIA fellows in youth-oriented nonprofits to develop enrichment programs that cultivate their leadership skills.

For nine weeks, five FLIA fellows—who themselves had been in foster care as youth—worked with YSS and the Iowa Aftercare Network Services (IASN) to develop strategic recommendations. They used their experience in the foster care system to analyze ways the IASN could improve its outreach and distribute the pandemic relief funds.

In December, the FLIA fellows presented a final report to YSS and IASN leadership, which included ideas for better outreach materials, website content, social media marketing, and more.

“This fellowship has helped provide me with the tools and skills I will need to be successful in my future career,” said Laticia Aossey, one of the FLIA fellows. “I am extremely appreciative of the connections I made, as well as the personal and professional development I gained through this opportunity.”

Since the presentation, the IASN has been applying the fellows’ recommendations to distribute the pandemic relief funds, as well as to improve their marketing and outreach strategy overall.

“I’m so grateful for the efforts of the FLIA fellows to develop new ideas to reach Iowa’s foster care youth and alumni,” said Andrew Allen, YSS President & CEO. “YSS is committed to youth development, and this experience was a great example of young adults using their lived experience to create change and make a difference in our state.”

Laticia is currently working toward her Master of Social Work degree. She is continuing her connection with YSS by interning during the spring 2022 semester with Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP), a statewide organization led by YSS. AMP seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive children in Iowa.

“I found my passion in helping current and former foster youth find their voices and advocating for improving the foster care system. There is no other organization where I would have rather interned,” Laticia said.

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