Youth in the foster care system face multiple and unique challenges on the path to educational and lifelong success. In addition to physical health risks and academic difficulties, these youth are more likely to suffer from social-emotional challenges that affect their long-term well-being. In order to support youth in foster care as they transition out of the system and into healthy, successful lives, many programs are relying on social-emotional approaches. These approaches include trauma-based interventions, counseling services, and long-term relationships with youth even after they have left the foster care system. The American Youth Policy Forum hosted a webinar on December 18th entitled “Social, Emotional and Physical Well-Being for Youth in Transition from the Foster Care System”, which focused on program and policy supports that reinforce the social-emotional health of youth in the foster care system as they transition into college, careers, and beyond.
Highlighting the report “Connected by 25” , this webinar featured Barbara Langford of the Youth Transition Funders Group – Foster Care Workgroup; Wayne Sims, President and Chief Executive Officer, KVC Health Systems, Inc.; and Mary Lee, National Transitional Living Coordinator,Youth Villages.
Barbara Langford, Foster Care Work Group, Youth Transition Funders Group
Mary Lee, National Transitional Living Coordinator, Youth Villages
Wayne Sims, President and Chief Executive Officer, KVC Health Systems, Inc
Barbara Hanson Langford has served in program, policy, and executive positions and led efforts to develop and deliver an array of technical assistance and training services on financing and sustaining initiatives serving children, families and communities. As the former Vice President for Tools, Technical Assistance and Training at The Finance Project, Langford was responsible for leading the organization’s efforts to develop and deliver an array of technical assistance and training services on financing and sustaining initiatives serving children, families and communities. These projects included developing cost and fund mapping tools, as well as designing processes to help leaders develop financing and sustainability plans. She has authored numerous strategy briefs, guides, and toolkits on financing and sustainability issues in the fields of foster care, early care and education, youth development, and out-of-school time. Langford has extensive experience facilitating state and community-based planning processes for a variety of stakeholders, from community collaboratives, to state agency task forces, to foundation affinity groups. Langford holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Langford has held positions at Families USA, the Massachusetts State Women’s Commission, and the US Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
Mary Rachael Lee is the National Transitional Living Coordinator at Youth Villages which is a non-profit organization that helps at-risk children and families. Her position focuses on enhancing, growing, and supporting Youth Villages’ initiatives with transition-age youth and the Youth Villages Transitional Living program across the organization. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and a licensed attorney. Mary also received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a minor in Leadership from Austin Peay State University. Mary came into foster care around the age of 12 and was in the system for almost five years before being adopted by her case manager one week before her 18th birthday.
Since the age of 15, Mary has been actively involved in improving the foster care system. She has served on Youth Advisory Councils on the local, state and national level, and was previously the president of the National Foster Youth Advisory Council. Mary also has experience working with Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Dave Thomas Foundation, National Council on Adoption, Northern Council on Adoptable Children and many other organizations. Mary was also the Youth Transition Funders Fellow on Disconnected Youth and Social Policy and is still an active member of YTFG and the Foster Care Work Group.
B. Wayne Sims is the President and Chief Executive Officer of KVC Health Systems, a private, nonprofit child welfare and behavioral healthcare organization headquartered in the greater Kansas City area. Mr. Sims took the helm of KVC in 1980 and has also served on its Board of Directors since 1987. In the past 33 years, he has grown the organization exponentially from a single home for at-risk boys in Kansas to a $120-million national organization serving tens of thousands of children and families in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. As a result of KVC’s unique family-centered practice model which uses evidence-based practices to achieve strong outcomes, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recognized KVC as a one of only four national best-practice organizations in the country.
Under Mr. Sims’ direction, KVC played a leadership role in pioneering child welfare system reform in Kansas when, in 1996, it became the first state in the nation to fully privatize children’s services. As a result of the successful outcomes achieved through this public/private partnership, KVC has earned opportunities to provide consulting to other states’ child welfare leaders and private organizations as far away as India and Singapore.
KVC provides a diverse continuum of services including inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient services, foster care case management, adoption, and in-home family therapy. The organization is accredited system-wide by The Joint Commission, and is known for its innovation in adapting Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) to the foster care community.
Mr. Sims has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Charles N. Kimball Founders Award for outstanding entrepreneurial leadership presented by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award presented by the Center for Management Assistance, the Kansas National Association of Social Workers Professional of the Year Award, and the Mid America Hall of Fame Award presented by the Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Wayne Sims earned a bachelor’s in social services from William Jewell College, a master’s in clinical psychology from Central Missouri University, and a master’s in health services administration from Central Michigan University.
National Transitional Living Coordinator
3320 Brother Blvd.
President and Chief Executive Officer
1223 Meadowlark Lane
Kansas City, KS 66102