True Up hosted our annual Charrette on July 19th, and we’re delighted to share our highlights from the day! 

Hosting the Charrette allows us to share valuable updates from True Up and to create a space for collaboration, where we can hear from dedicated community partners. This year, the focus of the Charrette was the educational success of children in the child welfare system. We heard from community leaders, such as the DCBS Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub, Terry Brooks with Kentucky Youth Advocates, Demitria Collins-Love with Family Scholar House, and Richard Davis with Jefferson Community & Technical College. With so many members of our community in the room, it was an excellent networking opportunity.

We always appreciate the opportunity to recognize True Up Champions and Peer Network members for all the great work they do, and the Charrette was no exception. Not only were we able to give them all a shoutout, most of them also helped organize or participated in the Charrette in some capacity.

One of our Peer Network members, Eltuan Dawson, was able to help us deliver a well-deserved recognition of state Representative Joni Jenkins. She received the ‘Leveling Up’ Community Award for all the great work she has done for our foster community in Frankfort, in addition to her phenomenal work with the previous True Up 4.0 support she provided at JCTC in Louisville. 

Here at True Up, we understand the importance of elevating youth and young adult voices, which is why we dedicated some time to a panel focused on the educational experiences of young adults with a foster care history. The panel was facilitated by our Peer Coach Coordinator and foster alum Cynthia Schepers and included members of the Peer Network, other foster alumni, as well as young adults who participate in ongoing projects with Kentucky Youth Advocates. Tamara Vest, Tia Humphrey, Cameron Galloway, Cameron Hoover, and Eltuan Dawson were all asked questions about their educational experiences, including what resources they utilized, and how getting their education impacted their lives.

The audience remained engaged during our breakout groups where we focused on strengths, filling gaps, and creating solutions around education and those with a child welfare experience. Each group developed actionable steps which were discussed after the activity. KYA facilitated the breakout groups, as well as foster care alumnus, to help with diversity in thought. Key takeaways from the breakout groups included:

  • the need for youth to participate in community events, like the Showcase of Schools in Jefferson County, to determine what educational environments best match their individual talents, interest, and future goals
  • youth need to have the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, and community groups 
  • youth need to be academically prepared to enroll and complete college and/or vocational trades

One of our closest community partners, Family Scholar House, graciously provided their Stoddard Johnston campus as the venue. Attendance for the day was a diverse group of stakeholders, including private child-care organizations, independent living staff, Aetna SKY Program, religious leaders, philanthropist, drop-in center staff, Children’s Alliance, Citizen Foster Care Review Board, and other education and child welfare advocates. 

There was also a lot of interest from those we did not have the opportunity to invite, so next year we will have to get a bigger space. Isn’t that exciting?! We had lunch catered by a wonderful local restaurant known as The Black Italian, and it was a definite crowd pleaser. Overall, it was a great event with lots of excitement wrapped around the discussions we shared. 

Before we closed out, we made sure to communicate ways to stay connected to and involved with True Up’s work and mission, such as following True Up on Facebook and Twitter, viewing the website, and signing up to receive the monthly newsletter.