Sam entered care at 14 and had the ‘fast track’ experience, including numerous moves, spanning shelters and foster homes to various forms of residential treatment. She aged out of care into college in an only partially successful attempt to avoid becoming homeless. With the advent of the Education and Training Vouchers during her sophomore year, she was able to use those funds to help pay her way through her Master’s degree. Education was her safety net both in and after leaving care, and while in school she met her husband, married, and become a mother.
A licensed social worker, Sam has worked at a group home for teen mothers, managed a life skills training program, and developed youth peer support/leadership organizations both locally and nationally. Since 2006 she has served in various roles in her state’s child welfare system, working to develop and support programs, practice, and services for aging out foster youth and runaway/homeless youth. This has included expanding opportunities for meaningful youth involvement, creating permanent youth supported housing, developing adolescent-specific training curriculum for child welfare workers, and addressing practice issues with sexual and gender minority youth in care. Dedicated to cross-systems work, she provides technical assistance on authentic youth involvement and transition-age youth issues
for various federal mental health initiatives.
For Sam the transition framework is simple but so central to her life and her work. Not only does it help her reflect on her earlier life experiences and the patterns in the system she works in, the framework and the process of creating FLUX has helped carry her through the not-so-neutral zone of her transition from wife to widow and the challenges that has brought to her personal and professional understanding of ‘permanency.’
Sam is proud to be a part of the alumni community and feels this is a valuable and critical piece of the work to improve outcomes for youth in care. A member of the 2007 Alumni Leadership Institute, the opportunity to work on FLUX seemed a natural progression in her support of the work of FCAA.