University of Pittsburgh
March 20, 2008

Youth Summit at Pitt's Child Welfare Training Center in Mechanicsburg Will Allow Foster Teens to Have Their Say


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-More than 75 young people from across Pennsylvania who are in or used to be in foster care will convene in Mechanicsburg, Pa., March 26 to share their stories and discuss what needs to be changed in the state's foster care system. "Youth Summit: Partner for Change" will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Center, 403 E. Winding Hill Rd., Mechanicsburg.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work administers the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program, which is based in Mechanicsburg. The program trains all child welfare professionals and foster parents in the state.

The summit is an opportunity for young people who have been abused or neglected to offer input at roundtable discussions with representatives from state and local government, the court system, and human service agencies. The young people also will present recommendations to the entire audience.

"We must learn from our youth and actively partner with them in order for our child welfare system to truly meet the needs of young people in foster care," says Helen Cahalane, Pitt clinical professor of social work and principal investigator of the Child Welfare and Education Training Programs. "The summit offers all of us an opportunity to establish common ground, reinforce what is working well, and improve our collective efforts."

Secretary of the Pa. Department of Public Welfare Estelle Richman adds that the youth summit will help those attending "find new and innovative ways to ensure that children in foster care are safe and secure and help us reach our goal of finding a permanent home for every waiting child."

The day's activities will conclude with a special performance by The Overcomers, a New York-based choral group of foster care youth who perform throughout the area.