University of Pittsburgh
August 7, 2012

Pitt-Johnstown to Host Annual Summer Retreat Aug. 13-17 for Pennsylvania Teenagers in Foster Care


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Teenagers from across Pennsylvania who are in foster care will convene for their annual retreat Aug. 13-17 at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) campus for a week of educational sessions, group talks, and social activities as they bond with teens in similar situations.

With a schedule designed by the teens themselves, 140 participants ages 16-21 will experience life on a college campus during the retreat as they use residence halls and campus facilities to set goals, examine their options, and make connections. Some teens have said the retreat has motivated them to pursue college and reach their full potential. 

Keynote speaker Kevin Y. Brown, who spent 17 years in the California foster-care system, will address attendees at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Living Learning Center Heritage Hall on the UPJ campus, 450 Schoolhouse Rd., Johnstown. 

The retreat is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work’s Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center and the State Department of Public Welfare Office of Children, Youth, and Families, with support from several statewide partners.

This past year was another significant one legislatively for youth in foster care. Pennsylvania passed some important legislation to implement provisions of the Fostering Connections Act, a law benefiting children and youth in foster care by promoting permanent families, improving education and health care, and extending support to youth up to age 21. Pennsylvania now joins a handful of states that are fully implementing the extended support provisions of the Fostering Connections Act by creating a Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship Program to continue benefits to age 21 and also permitting youth to re-enter care after they have left the system. 

“These changes are important steps forward to improving the lives of foster youth in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” said Helen Cahalane, principal investigator of the Pitt-based Child Welfare Education and Research Programs and clinical associate professor in Pitt’s School of Social Work.

About Kevin Y. Brown

Growing up in the California foster care system, Kevin Y. Brown graduated at the top of his high school class and earned bachelor’s degrees in fashion design and in business administration from Clark Atlanta University. He is the recipient of the Malcolm X Exceptional Courage Scholarship and the Les Brown Heart of Determination and Perseverance Award. Brown has designed and sold his own clothing line and travels extensively, empowering audiences of young people using the motto “Interact, Teach, Empower.” He has served as an advisor on Congressional bills for change in the national foster care system and was commended by U.S. Congressman John Lewis for his efforts to overcome life’s challenges.

About Pitt’s Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center

A national leader in advocacy for a better quality of life for Pennsylvania’s children, youth, and families, the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center partners with communities and public and private agencies to train and support child welfare professionals across the state. Through cross-system collaborations, the center facilitates county-specific assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and monitoring to help facilitate the outcomes of safety, permanence, and well-being for the children, youth, and families it serves. The center is based in Pitt’s School of Social Work.




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