Annually 26,000 young people age out of the foster care system, often with limited resources and relationships to ensure they successfully transition into adulthood. Providing the necessary supports and guidance to ensure these young people can navigate their own pathway to long-term success is critical. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program. By providing intensive, individualized, and clinically focused case management, support, and counseling, YVLifeSet has demonstrated excellent results with young people transitioning out of foster care or with a history of involvement in the juvenile justice system. This forum focused on these research findings and their implications for scaling effective practices and the role of policy.
Mark Courtney is a Professor in the School of Social Service Administration. His fields of special interest are child welfare policy and services, the connection between child welfare services and other institutions serving marginalized populations, and the professionalization of social work. His current work includes studies of the adult functioning of former foster children, experimental evaluation of independent living services for foster youth, and the influence of juvenile courts on the operation of the child welfare system. Professor Courtney received his Ph.D. and M.S.W. from the School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley. He also received an M.A. in clinical psychology from the John F. Kennedy University and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an affiliated scholar of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, which he served as Director from 2001 to 2006 while he was a member of the SSA faculty. He has also served on the faculties of the University of Washington (2007-2010) and the University of Wisconsin (1992-2000). He was the founding director of Partners for Our Children (POC), a public-private partnership housed at the University of Washington devoted to improving child welfare services. POC received the 2008 American Public Human Services Association Award for Academic Excellence.
Jim Henry currently serves in Governor Bill Haslam’s administration as the Deputy to the Governor/Chief of Staff. He has been in this role since August 1, 2015. Prior to that, he served for just over two years as the Commissioner for the Department of Children’s Services. While at DCS, he was able to work with his leadership team to revamp the Child Abuse Hotline, move the Brian A. federal lawsuit closer to exit, elevate child health and bring a new therapeutic program to Juvenile Justice facilities. He began his service in this administration as the first Commissioner of the newly created Department of Intellecutal and Developmental Disabilities. A former Kingston mayor, Henry served 12 years as a state representative and 6 of those years as the Minority Leader advocating on behalf of children and individuals with developmental disabilities. Henry, a Vietnam veteran, is married to Patricia, and they have raised three children. They attend First Baptist Church in Kingston.
Michael Leach is the Director of Independent Living for the State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services (DCS). The Independent Living team is charged with building networks of appropriate supports and services for youth transitioning out of care, as well as for those who are likely to remain in care after turning 18. In building these networks, Michael and his team help youth attain and sustain ongoing connections with caring adults, acquire and maintain gainful employment, achieve educational/vocational goals, and receive financial assistance and skills training. Prior to his role in Independent Living, Michael was the Director of Systems Integration within DCS. In this role, he worked with all facets of the department including implementation of the Child and Adolescent Needs & Strengths Assessment (CANS), contract development/monitoring and utilization review.
Prior to his time at DCS, Michael worked in clinical roles at the Vanderbilt Center of Excellence (COE) and Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinic (CAPOC). He also has experience in facilitating crisis response services at a community mental health center. Michael has provided in-person training to the Singapore Social and Family Development Ministry and continues to deliver regular, on-going consultation to that team. Michael received the 2014 TN CASA Champion of Children award. Michael holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Stanislaus.
Jeff Rainey has over 25 years of progressive experience working in both the non-profit and government sector. Early in his career, he was responsible for the establishment of the first Child Advocacy Center in the State of Florida, a multidisciplinary model that serves children and families in crisis. Mr. Rainey also managed the Child Protection Team focusing on forensic trauma to children. He was the Director of the Guardian Ad Litem Program and spent seven years as Chief of Court Operations for the 13th Judicial Circuit, overseeing all of court operations including, juvenile, family, domestic violence, mental health and drug courts and court programs.Mr. Rainey is the Chief Executive for Strategic Advancement for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, where he is currently responsible for all of the Ys social and community service provision, serving 15,000 kids and young adults annually, the Ys public policy and advocacy, Integrated Healthcare model, and all new strategic initiatives.
Dr. David Sanders provides strategic direction over the foundation’s work with child welfare systems to improve practice, with an emphasis on safely reducing the number of children in foster care. Prior to joining Casey Family Programs, he directed all operations for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the largest county system in the country, with about 6,000 staff serving approximately 22,000 children in foster care. During his tenure, the department saw its foster care population decrease as safety and stability measures improved. He previously served 10 years as director of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Children, Family and Adult Services Department, managing a staff of 1,450. As director, he was responsible for all state and federally mandated social services to children, families and adults in the county. Early in his career, Dr. Sanders worked in Minneapolis, first as a senior clinical psychologist in the Hennepin County Mental Health Center, and later as chief clinical psychologist. Dr. Sanders graduated with honors from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota.