Page 1

With TL, Zoey takes control of her life, plus one ... 3

DeeDee finds forever home; Rosa was always there ... 5

Youth Villages receives $42 million grant ... 3

Family Victories from Youth Villages East Tennessee

Spring 2012

FIRST TIME’S A CHARM Foster parents adopt brothers Ethan and Levi ... 4

A message from

Johnson City Morristown Knoxville Chattanooga

Our director



Cookeville Nashville Mike Bruns, Dickson

Stacking the deck in favor of children



Dyersburg Jackson Many times in our business I’m reminded of how tenuous stability can be. It Memphis mirrors many aspects of our lives, where success or failure is dependent upon

events and things that may, or may not, go our way. When you’re an adult, you stack the odds in your favor to prepare for unfortunate consequences. For example, if you drive an older car, you may keep a jacket, booster cables and other comfort items in the trunk in case it breaks down. You keep a list of wrecker services programmed in your phone. You’ve called friends and others to let them know you may need to rely on them in the near future. It’s common sense to be prepared. But it also takes practice. Young people highlighted in this newsletter show how preparation led to their success, but it could have turned out differently. Amber and Zoey are exceptional young people placed in situations that required them to be prepared, but they weren’t. They didn’t know how, and they hadn’t practiced. Becoming part of our transitional living program gave them the practice they needed, and they’re both thriving.

Chairman Ronnie Randall, Vice Chairman Columbia Jimmy Lackie, Secretary Paul Bower, Treasurer Jim Barton Jr. Eric Bolton Kenneth Campbell Marietta Davis Nicholas R. Ehlen Joanna Jacobson Rev. Robert Earl Jones Bryan Jordan Karole Lloyd Mark Medford Jim Parrish Johnny Pitts Ray Pohlman Jennifer Queen Pat Ritz Matthew Tarkenton Scotland Thede David Tyler Betsy Walkup George White Patrick Lawler, CEO

DeeDee, Ethan and Levi are with exceptional foster parents who felt called to make their foster situation permanent through adoption. DeeDee and Ethan had come from foster homes where they didn’t feel safe – they were defiant and had their guard up all the time. Now, DeeDee calls Rosa “Mom.” In Ethan’s case, his younger brother also joined the family. At Youth Villages, we work to help children and families prepare for whatever happens. When someone needs help, they have people to call. Your support through donations and volunteering adds yet another layer of help and stability for children and families in our programs. They have the means to prepare for life. And with each layer, success becomes closer and closer to a sure thing. Thank you for all you do to support Youth Villages.

Amanda Tillman Director of East Tennessee 865-560-2550 2

CONTACT US Chattanooga 5741 Cornelison Road 6400 Building Chattanooga, TN 37411 phone: 423-954-8890 fax: 423-954-8880 Johnson City 3915 Bristol Hwy #101 Johnson City, TN 37601 phone: 423-283-6500 fax: 423-283-6550 Knoxville 9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite E475 Knoxville, TN 37923 phone: 865-560-2550 fax: 865-560-2580 Morristown 225 West First North Street, Suite 302 Millennium Square Building Morristown, TN 37814 phone: 423-522-2200 fax: 423-522-2180

Program Success

*82.7% of youth were in state custody

As a national leader in the field of behavioral health, Youth Villages has measured at admission to the program. outcomes of children and families participating in its programs since 1994.


ZOEY TAKES CONTROL OF HER LIFE; COMMITTED TO SUCCESS Zoey was in the midst of monumental


change, and it could have gone a bad

At One One-Year Year Post Post-Discharge Discharge



No involvement with the law


At home with family




In foster care almost all her life, she faced serious adult decisions at 18 years old. Looking back at that time, it’s almost

In school or graduated




as if it were a fond memory, she said. She left her foster home and lived at the YWCA and took classes at a local college. She lived nearby, and could walk where she needed to go. She had a job. But Zoey’s soft-spoken and shy by nature, and had trouble securing the other things adults need — finding a doctor, pursuing a career, finding housing. Her case manager with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

The graph above represents the status of East Tennessee youth at one year after discharge through December 2011. Figures include only youth who received at least 60 days of service and reflect a response rate of 53 percent.

told her about Youth Villages’ transitional living program. “I was never taught how to do those things,” she said. “I didn’t know how to respond to questions; everything was continued on page 6

NEWS AND NOTES AROUND YOUTH VILLAGES YOUTH VILLAGES RECEIVES $42 MILLION CHALLENGE GRANT The Day Foundation announced it will give Youth Villages a $42 million legacy challenge grant primar-

tion before his death in 2009. Because the TL program is funded mostly through private donations, the grant will help Youth Villages maintain and expand the program. While Youth Villages is helping 1,452

LAWLER TAKES PART IN WHITE HOUSE ROUNDTABLE Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler recently joined other child advocates for a roundtable discussion with Presi-

ily to help expand the organization’s

young adults this year through the TL

dent Obama’s Domestic Policy Coun-

transitional living program that helps

program in Alabama, Florida, Geor-

cil staff at the White House.

older foster children become success-

gia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North

ful adults.

Carolina and Tennessee, there are

and Family Services Improvement and

thousands more in need.

Innovation Act. It expands the Title

It is the largest single grant ever awarded to Youth Villages and one of

Each year, as many as 30,000 chil-

The meeting focused on the Child

IV-E waiver program to allow more

the largest ever to a social services

dren will turn 18 and “age out” of state

states to use federal funds to develop


custody, being left on their own to make

or provide prevention or reunifica-

their way in life as an adult.

tion services that help children avoid

Philanthropist Clarence Day, who began the foundation, was a longtime

foster care entirely, reunite with fam-

Youth Villages supporter, donating

ily members more quickly or find new

more than $14 million to the organiza-

families through adoption. 3

FIRST-TIME FOSTER PARENTS GIVE BROTHERS A FAMILY Levi does quite a bit of the talking.

foster kids there. I think he needed a home where there

Energetic and animated, Levi has made his new

were fewer children, and by the summer, he’d changed.”

house a home. He’s 2, almost 3, and loves

He still has moments as any teenager would, but Mi-

his older brother, Ethan, 14.

chael, a man of few words,

The two boys were the

described Ethan succinctly,

first foster children for

and somewhat jokingly:

Christy and Michael. Ethan came first in March 2010

“He’s a good kid most of the time.”

and Levi in February of 2011.

Ethan plans to participate

The couple adopted both in

in wrestling, and has always


been active in school. And

Ethan had some difficulty

whether it is clothing, shoes,

in previous foster homes

or running the television,

and disrupted. But some-

Levi insists upon doing it

thing changed when he

himself. Both have extend-

went to Christy and Mi-

ed family through Christy

chael’s home.

and Michael, who accept

They’re more relaxed, and it put Ethan in a good

the children also as part of the family.

frame of mind. After a few months at the home, Ethan “He was very shy in the


in contact with an older

“They were nice to me,” Ethan said. “At first I had

Ethan first brought up adoption.

came out of his shell.

Levi, 2, and Ethan, 14, have settled in their permanent home with parents Michael and Christy.

my guard up, but I like it here.”

brother who has aged out of foster care. “We’d gone through the foster parenting classes and

“We just fell in love with

The couple talked to-

Ethan,” Christy said. “Our

gether about Ethan and

beginning,” Christy said.

initial goal was to be foster

Levi, and decided to pursue

“His previous home had five

parents and then potentially

adoption. The kids also stay

had been certified about a month,” Christy said. “We continued on next page

OVERCOMING THE LITTLE THINGS TL gives support to focus on important matters of becoming an adult The little things can get the best of you. That’s what happened with Amber, who admittedly stressed

20-year-old said. “I was away from home and everyone. I was anxious because I didn’t know what to do.” Amber was in a post-custody

over little things so much, she was

arrangement with foster parents

losing sight of larger duties.

who lived hours away. Her younger

It happens to teenagers as they

sister was at the home. She practi-

approach adulthood, and for many,

cally raised her younger sister on

they have parents or mentors to

her own and was very protective of

guide them through those times,

her. Then the foster parents began

show them how to manage their

the adoption process for her sister.

time and money, keep their grades

Detached from everything that

up and handle adult responsibilities.

was familiar, Amber’s grades be-

Amber didn’t have that. “I didn’t know what to do,” the 4

continued on page 6

TL Specialist Teresaann Fisher, left, with Amber

WHEN SHE NEEDED SOMEONE, ROSA WAS ALWAYS THERE At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “Who’s going to be there for me?” For DeeDee, the answer was obvious. Last November, Rosa, whom she now calls “Mom,” adopted her.

for, but she’s fiercely loyal to her mom now. While she challenges Rosa as any teenager would, she doesn’t understand when her peers speak ill of their parents. “Sometimes at school I overhear other

“I had already adopted one child, and I

kids talk about how they hate their parents

wasn’t looking to adopt again,” Rosa said.

because their parents didn’t let them go to a

“But every time she’d leave to go to another

party or to a friend’s house,” DeeDee said.

foster family, she’d come back.” DeeDee didn’t think she’d like living there. Initially, it was difficult. She first stayed with Rosa during a weekend, and Rosa could tell there was something different about DeeDee. Rosa, whose biological children were grown, was patient. She was relaxed. Most important, she knew where DeeDee was coming from. “I had a temper, and I was very defensive,”

“I think to myself, ‘You’re so lucky. You don’t know what that means.’ I wanted someone to tell me I couldn’t go somewhere. I wanted someone to be there for me.”

DeeDee said. “I had my guard up all the time. Few people could have gone through those times with me, but Rosa was different.”

DeeDee doesn’t regret anything. She wished for adoptive parents who could take

DeeDee had two weekend stays with Rosa

her places and do things with her. Rosa can’t

before moving there full time. The high school

be that to the level DeeDee wanted, but they

sophomore plans to become a nurse and also

both believe faith brought them together.

pursue a country music career. She went into

They communicate; they finish each other’s

foster care at age 13 after allegations of abuse

sentences. They laugh and they smile. They

and neglect.

have an energy between each other formed

She said being in foster care was difficult except for the time with Rosa. She’s more

out of love, safety and security. “I don’t regret my situation because now I

relaxed now and has again become the talk-

have a better life,” DeeDee said. “At the end

ative, outgoing girl she was before going into

of the day, I asked myself, ‘Who’s going to be

state custody. She just turned 16, and is work-

there to help and support me?’”

ing to help Rosa buy her a car. DeeDee doesn’t shy from talking about the adoption. Rosa wasn’t what she was looking

Then Rosa finished for her. “Things happen for a reason, and it makes you stronger.”


Services to find permanent homes for the children in our care who have adoption as a goal. Youth Villages offers an array of training, support and assistance to potential adoptive parents. Many adoptive

were fortunate that all of it worked out.” Christy said they’d initially narrowed the choice down to two agencies and decided on Youth Villages after speak-

parents also are eligible for continuing adoption subsidies from the state. “I think back to everything before, and it’s almost like it’s

ing with staff and learning about the support Youth Vil-

always been this way,” Christy said. “If you have the room

lages provides. In Tennessee, the Youth Villages adoption

and you like kids, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to

program partners with the state Department of Children’s

share a good home with someone who needs one.” 5



from page 3

from page 4


gan to suffer. Her college financial aid was threatened. Going into

Then she found out she was pregnant.

the summer months, she thought she’d lose her housing. Luckily,

“One of the first things we did was get her to a

her case manager from the Tennessee Department of Children’s

doctor for a checkup,” said Lindsey Jones, Youth Villages TL specialist. “That’s when we found out she was pregnant.” She had to leave the YWCA. She then stayed with a friend. Then she lost her job. “There were some challenges for us at the begin-

Services contacted Youth Villages about Amber. Amber is participating in Youth Villages’ transitional living clinical trial to measure the TL program’s effectiveness. Conducted by MDRC through grants from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study will evaluate the difference between the TL program and

ning when she found out she was pregnant and lost

usual services available in the community. Participants are inter-

her job,” Lindsey said. “But she had support from

viewed periodically to track their progress.

Michael, her fiancé, and she was motivated to make sure things worked out.”

The study involves about 1,300 young people randomly assigned to TL or other community resources during the next two years. TL

Michael was a huge help.

services are available for young people ages 18-22 who are aging

“He was always there for me,” Zoey said. “He went

out of state custody and have little or no support. TL specialists

with me to all of my doctor’s appointments and

help young people secure housing; pursue educational and em-

was waiting for me at the hospital when I went into

ployment goals; access health and mental health services; learn


such independent living skills as budgeting, cooking, cleaning

And a little less than a year ago, their son was born. “I wanted a safe place for my son,” Zoey said. “I want to be a mother and watch him grow.” The TL program provides young adults leaving foster care with the intensive support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adult-

and shopping; and create and maintain healthy relationships with family and others. Teresaann Fisher, TL clinical supervisor, said Amber was motivated to succeed. “She didn’t know where to start,” Fisher said. “We worked on building her resume and re-applying for health care.” In addition, they found out about a work-study program and

hood. The program helps young people learn to

enrolled in classes that let her remain on campus during the sum-

deal with the minor and major problems that come

mer. She got a job. She volunteered at a local recreation center.

with adulthood. TL specialists help participants find housing and health services, learn how to access transportation and meet their basic needs. Special-

“I volunteered more than 100 hours at the center,” Amber said. “I fell in love with the kids there and kept going back.” Her grades turned around. Now a junior, Amber recently was

ists teach life skills like budgeting, menu planning

selected to enter the social work program at the school. Through

and grocery shopping.

it all, she spoke regularly with Teresaann.

Zoey discharged from the TL program in October.

“We found a structure so I wouldn’t feel lost,” Amber said. “She

Her son’s healthy. She’s working part-time now and

helped me walk through things. I began to accomplish smaller

plans to return to school as soon as possible. She

goals, and it gave me confidence to move on to the larger ones.”

hasn’t bought a car, but knows the bus system very

Amber has been a speaker at DCS functions to advocate for

well. Michael and she have an apartment, and she

more support for teens in foster care. She plans to pursue a ca-

continues regular meetings with a private practice

reer in the social work and human development field.

therapist and social service nurse through nonprof-

“I’d like to advocate for youth in the system,” Amber said. “So

it organizations that offer support while their son is

often, kids are labeled when they enter state custody. They’re looked

an infant.

at as if they did something wrong. Many times, that’s not the case.”

Having a child at this time is stressful, but still fun,

Amber discharged from the TL program in January, but has

Zoey said. She’s not sure how all of this would’ve

made connections through school and the program that will help

turned out without the TL program.

her continue her road to success.

“If it wasn’t for Youth Villages, I’d be a lot further

“Amber is an extraordinary girl,” Teresaann said. “She’s a moti-

behind,” she said. “I’d still be the timid little girl I

vation for all of us at Youth Villages to help children, and she will

was before.”

be an asset to anyone she mentors in the future.”



Thanks to our many supporters

The following donors made gifts to Youth Villages between Aug. 1 and


Dec. 31, 2011. The board of directors and staff of Youth Villages gratefully acknowledge these thoughtful contributions. If you made a contribution during this time but it is not listed, please call the Youth Villages Knoxville office at 865-560-2550.

YV Pillar ($10,000- $24,999) Variety of Eastern Tennessee

YV Champion for Children ($1,000- $4,999) First Tennessee Foundation Dr. Chad Thomas

YV Leader ($500 - $999) Karl A. Kemmer Yale Locks and Hardware

YV Friend (Gifts up to $499) Beverly V. Abele Acadia Healthcare All About You Family Medicine Andrew Johnson Bank Bailey Insurance Baker Peters Jazz Club David Bonner Daniel Burja Gary Burnette Steve Chancey Chattanooga Area CFC Community National Bank John Douglas Josie Dowell June Fulbright Brittany Greene Harmony Adoptions of Tennessee Inc. Kendra Martin Joellen Meredith J. E. Rausin Seth Reagan Charles Rich Dr. Daniel A. Slonaker Richard Williams

Honorariums Bob and Julie Switzer Josie Dowell

Variety of Eastern Tennessee, a long-standing charity in the entertainment industry whose mission is to help disadvantaged or disabled children, awarded Youth Villages a $16,000 grant toward the purchase of gifts for more than 200 East Tennessee children for Youth Villages’ Holiday Heroes program. The East Tennessee chapter of Variety began in 2001.

JOIN OUR EFFORTS Become a force for families There are numerous ways to help. Mentor, foster parent, volunteer or financially donate to our programs. Your support can have a direct impact on the future of the more than 450 children we help every day in East Tennessee. Please call or e-mail Youth Villages to find out how to help. 9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite E-475 Knoxville, TN, 37923 865-560-2550

Thinking of a planned gift? There are as many different ways

planned giving calculator to see what

to support Youth Villages as there

a planned gift would mean in your

are needs for your support. If you

unique circumstances. For more

are new to the concept of planned

information, contact Marler Stone at

giving, please click Donate on www.

901-251-4820 or e-mail and then go to the

Planned Giving website for information on wills and bequests, gifts

Join our networks

of appreciated stock, real estate, charitable remainder trusts, gifts of

retirement assets, life insurance and charitable lead trusts. Resources there include defini-

tions, wording for wills, stories of how instruments are created and much

more. You may want to visit the


YOUTH VILLAGES 9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite E475 Knoxville, TN 37923 (Address Service Requested)


A private nonprofit organization, Youth Villages serves more than 18,000 children and their families from offices in the following cities: Alabama: Auburn, Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile Arkansas: Jonesboro, Little Rock Florida: Lakeland, Miami, Tampa Georgia: Atlanta, Douglasville Indiana: Jeffersonville, Madison Massachusetts: Lawrence, Plymouth, Springfield, Woburn, Worcester Mississippi: Biloxi, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Jackson, Tupelo New Hampshire: Manchester North Carolina: Asheville, Boone, Charlotte, Concord, Greensboro, Greenville, Pinehurst, Raleigh-Durham, Oregon: Portland Tennessee: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Dickson, Dyersburg, Jackson, Johnson City, Knoxville, Linden, Memphis, Morristown, Nashville, Paris Washington, D.C.

New Heights East Tennessee is published by Youth Villages

Managing Editor: Amanda Tillman

Associate Editor: Chris Pennington Please call 865-560-2550 to have your name removed from our mailing list.

Founded in 1986, Youth Villages is a private nonprofit organization with a national reputation for offering the most effective programs and services to help emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families live successfully. Youth Villages’ Evidentiary Family Restoration™ approach involves intensive work with the child and family, a focus on measuring outcomes, keeping children in the community whenever safely possible, and providing unprecedented accountability to families and funders. The EFR approach produces lasting success for children, with success rates twice that of traditional services at one-third the cost of traditional care.

New Heights East Tennessee - Spring 2012  

Newsletter for Youth Villages in East Tennessee