New Collaboration Amplifies Youth Voice in Addressing Mental Health Issues

New Collaboration Amplifies Youth Voice in Addressing Mental Health Issues

Last week, California Youth Connection (CYC) — in partnership with Youth In MindYoung Minds Advocacy, and VOICES – announced a collaboration that is focused on engaging transitional aged youth (TAY) like Torres with California’s mental health systems. Over the next three years, the youth-led effort – funded by a grant from the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission – will conduct outreach, provide training, and lobby policymakers with the intention to reduce stigma around mental health and to improve access to services.

Amber Twitchell of VOICES wins Nonprofit Leadership Award

Amber Twitchell of VOICES wins Nonprofit Leadership Award

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am passionate about the work I have the opportunity to do every day. I have worked in the youth development field for over 16 years and consider it my mission to ensure that young leaders in our community are listened to and respected. Every day I have the opportunity to experience how amazing and resilient the human spirit truly is. I am passionate about supporting youth in learning how to care of themselves, use their voices to change the world, and overcome challenges to realize the future they dream of. I value working in partnership with others to come up with ways to create changes that will make our community better for our future generations.

State law expanding foster care has created only modest gains, report says

State law expanding foster care has created only modest gains, report says

Tyler-St. Clair, 21, of Santa Rosa is one of a half-dozen young adults who spent a year assessing the county’s extended foster care services. They were expanded in 2012 to youth between 18 and 21 under Assembly Bill 12, a new state law aimed at helping older foster youth transition to independence.

'Crush Cup' soccer tournament gives boost to young adults raised in foster care

'Crush Cup' soccer tournament gives boost to young adults raised in foster care

Charity fundraisers in Sonoma County can typically fall into the same pattern. There are wine auctions and beer festivals. The large bicycle races. And the 5Ks and 10Ks galore. While those types of events aid good causes, David Barnett wanted to do something for the county’s estimated 450 foster children and young adults without making the fundraising effort seem like a chore or duty — or like a lot of others held in the area.

Folks You Should Know - Amber Twitchell

Folks You Should Know - Amber Twitchell

Amber Twitchell is the director of VOICES, a youth-developed and -led community center that provides services to former and current foster youth, homeless youth, and other disconnected youth in our community. Her staff consists of 22 young people between the ages of 16-26, all of who have direct experience in various systems of care. 

Keller Williams goes RED for a good cause

Keller Williams goes RED for a good cause

On RED Day, KW associates across the country volunteer to Renew, Energize and Donate (RED) within their communities. The event is held on the second Thursday of May. As part of the local RED Day effort, Keller Williams Napa Valley spent the day pampering the youth at VOICES Napa.

Voices: A haven for youth in Sonoma County

Voices: A haven for youth in Sonoma County

On the northern edge of downtown Santa Rosa stands a two-story Victorian home that looks warm and inviting. Nobody lives there, but the living room is usually full. The house at 714 Mendocino Ave. serves as the headquarters for the Voices program, which aims to help youth ages 16 to 24 who are homeless, coming out of foster care or both.

Taking Charge

IN FIVE MONTHS, eight Napa teens have succeeded in doing what California's Department of Social Services has failed to do -- bring together various agencies dealing with foster care to create a cohesive, streamlined system of support efforts. With the help of a coalition of government and nonprofit agencies, the youth -- ranging in age from 15 to 21, opened the doors to VOICES (Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support), the first known youth-led center for emancipating youth.