YSS is the lead agency for two groups who support and advocate for foster care youth: AMP, which empowers youth currently in foster care, and the Iowa Aftercare Services Network, which provides services for former foster care youth ages 18+.

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AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential)

Led by YSS, AMP is a statewide youth council that seeks to unleash the full potential for foster and adoptive children (ages 13+) in Iowa. With the motto "Nothing about us, without us," AMP offers:

  • Life skills to become healthy, independent adults
  • Valuable leadership opportunities
  • Service learning projects in the community
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Educational/vocational assistance

For more information, visit www.weareampiowa.com.

About Us

Youth-Driven Leadership

AMP helps young people become advocates for themselves, giving them a voice to impact child welfare policies and practices. Through supportive, productive partnerships, youth speak out to make foster care more responsive and effective.

AMP youth also educate legislators, child welfare professionals, juvenile court representatives, foster parents, and the public about foster care and adoption from a youth perspective.

AMP Youth Council Locations

Local AMP youth councils are available in the following locations: Ames, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Eldora, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City, and Waterloo.

An AMP facilitator is also available to travel to councils located within youth facilities.

Samanthya's Story

Samanthya Marlatt first heard of YSS when she entered foster care at age 11.

As she grew up, YSS was there every step of the way. "Through all the ambiguity of entering foster care, aging out of foster care, moving homes—the one thing that was consistent was YSS," she says.

Samanthya stayed connected through YSS's Aftercare program for foster care alumni. In 2022, her journey came full circle when she joined YSS as the new Program Manager for AMP.

"When I think about my history with YSS, as well as my passion for creating better outcomes for youth who experience foster care, it was a perfect fit," Samanthya says. "It feels like being home."

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AMP Events

AMP Day on the Hill

Each year, AMP youth form their official legislative agenda, which they share with Iowa’s governor, legislators, and the public at the event "AMP Day on the Hill."

For 12 years, AMP Day on the Hill has been successful in making change for Iowa’s youth, passing laws that include implementing the Guardian Assistance Program to increase permanency for foster youth; strengthening Iowa code to keep siblings together in out-of-home placements; and allowing foster youth to remain in care until age 21.

Read about the 2023 AMP Day on the Hill.

AMP Camp

Each year, foster care youth attended AMP Camp to network, discuss legislative advocacy, and participate in fun activities.

During the week, dozens of youth enjoy fishing and swimming in the lake, campfire gatherings, dance parties, games, and arts and crafts.

In addition, campers participate in meaningful activities such as strategic storytelling, color personality tests, and a cookie-baking contest to demonstrate that each youth—like each recipe—is unique and valued.

Read more about 2022 AMP Camp.

Get Involved

Allow us to speak at your event - AMP youth have a compelling story to share and would welcome the opportunity to speak at your next luncheon, meeting, or event.

Share a skill, talent, or hobby - Many youth in foster care do not get the chance to develop critical life skills that enable others their age to succeed. Please consider sharing your skills and knowledge with our youth.

Donate a service or product - Teens leaving foster care have the same needs as others their age, as they move toward living independently. Furnishings, linens, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, towels, kitchen supplies, etc. are welcomed to help AMP youth succeed.

Provide financial support - Make a secure online donation to YSS, the lead organization for AMP.


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Iowa Aftercare Services Network (IASN)

Entering adulthood comes with making many important decisions, and it can be a tough time.

For young adults who have experienced foster care or other out-of-home placement, YSS provides support to help move toward stability and self-sufficiency.

Since 2002, YSS has proudly served as the lead agency of the IASN, a state-wide program for young people (ages 18-23) who have aged out of foster care. We work with young adults as equal partners in creating and meeting their individualized goals.

The IASN is funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services. For more information, visit iowaaftercare.org.

About Us


Young adults who are eligible for the program must:

  • Be between the ages of 18-23
  • Left foster care at age 18 or older; adopted or placed in subsidized guardianship from foster care after age 16; or exited from State Training School or court-ordered detention at age 18 or older

Pre-Planning Services

Young adults who meet eligibility requirements for aftercare services can begin preparing to enter the program several months prior to leaving foster care

To meet with a YSS Self-Sufficiency Advocate and learn more about opportunities available, contact us for a referral.

Yuli's Story

When Yuli turned 18 and left her foster care placement, she didn’t know where to turn. Legally an adult—but unsure how to be on her own—Yuli was in a tough situation many foster care alumni face.

Thankfully, she found the Aftercare program at YSS. Yuli also accessed therapy services at YSS to prioritize her mental health and manage her anxiety. “The Aftercare program at YSS has helped me stay on track,” Yuli says. “The staff truly care for me; they make sure I have everything I need.”

A year after aging out of foster care, Yuli now has an apartment, works full-time, and attends community college. Yuli is grateful for her Aftercare Self-Sufficiency Advocate, who continually helps her with budgeting and checks in on how she’s doing.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without that support from YSS,” Yuli explains. “It feels like a family to me. They help me in so many ways—it’s amazing.”

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Aftercare Services

IASN services guide young people toward stability and self-sufficiency in six key areas:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Safe housing
  • Health
  • Life skills
  • Healthy relationships

Participants meet at least twice monthly with a Self-Sufficiency Advocate, who partners with youth to help address barriers and develop skills to achieve individual goals.

Advocates help participants:

  • Develop a plan for self-sufficiency
  • Secure a safe place to live
  • Pay for unexpected bills
  • Find a doctor, dentist, counselor, or other health professional
  • Set and achieve financial goals
  • Enroll in secondary education
  • Obtain job training or employment
  • Connect with adult mentors and/or other community resources

Preparation for Adult Living

Young adults receiving aftercare services who are pursuing education or working full-time may qualify for additional financial resources through the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program.

To receive a PAL stipend, youth must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Left state-paid foster care on or after their 18th birthday
  • Left STS or court-ordered detention on or after their 18th birthday
  • Had been in placement at least six of the 12 months prior to exiting care
  • Are no longer eligible for voluntary foster care
  • Attend college, job training or work full-time (at least 80 hours per month)
  • Stay in an approved living arrangement other than a parent’s home
  • Attend regular meetings with a Self-Sufficiency Advocate

Subsidized Housing

The Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) offers a variety of programs that address housing needs, including a rent subsidy. This program is designed for Aftercare participants who do not qualify for PAL.