Youth Spotlight: Autumn
“Valley Youth House didn’t make me feel like I was broken.” – Autumn, 17 years old, York County
Running away. Probation. Skipping school. Lack of stability. This was the life Autumn faced before and during her foster care placements. When 17-year-old Autumn was referred to Valley Youth House’s Adolescents Achieving Independence program, which provides assistance to current or recently released foster care youth, she thought it would be just another service, another person to tell her what to do, and another person who would fail and abandon her.
But instead, she says Valley Youth House and her Life Skills Counselor, Brittaney, got to know her for who she is as a person. Each week, Autumn, meets with her Adolescents Achieving Independence Life Skills Counselor, Brittaney, for a one-on-one session where they discuss job applications, budgeting and money management, and go grocery shopping together. Autumn says that being in this program is the first time she’s learned these important skills that will help her on the road to live a healthy, independent life.
Before Valley Youth House, Autumn had issues with trust and communication due to her past. However, she has become close with Brittaney, who she says is a positive adult in her life and is always there for her and checking in to make sure she is okay. “Valley Youth House keeps their word.” says Autumn.
Autumn has recently taken on a leadership role in the local and regional Youth Advisory Boards (YAB), whose missions are to educate, advocate, and form partnerships to create positive change in the child welfare system. She is currently working with other foster care youth on a resource video for future foster care parents to know what to expect and learn about the issues youth in the child welfare system face. Additionally, she helped coordinate a suitcase drive for other foster care youth, who may only be using trash bags to carry their belongings between placements.
Autumn says she uses these leadership positions to “be they voice for youth who don’t always have a voice within the system” so that “they realize there is hope and to help them improve their situations, and have a better and positive experience while in foster care.”
She is definitely paying it forward and has a big heart for giving back and making a difference in the greater York community. Valley Youth House is proud of you, Autumn!