SaySo joins Children’s Home Society of NC
On July 1, 2018, Children’s Home Society of North Carolina welcomed SaySo to its family of programs.
SaySo, Strong Able Youth Speaking Out, is a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are, or have been, in the out-of-home care system in North Carolina, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements. Its mission is to improve the substitute care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to youth who are or have been in out-of-home care.
SaySo began in 1998 and today the organization boasts 27 chapters across North Carolina and a membership of over 500 young adults in foster care and alumni. SaySo works with youth in foster care, foster care alumni, social workers, foster parents, and foster care advocates. Through a series of yearly conferences, events, and opportunities for youth in foster care, they help youth with their lives within the system of care, as well as transitioning out of foster care, by informing them of services and resources available to them and teaching them essential life skills. SaySo also advocates for foster care at the local and state government levels, informing legislators of the challenges and opportunities facing youth in foster care. SaySo has a track record of supporting improvements to the system, such as extending critical support services from age 18 to 21 for youth exiting foster care.
A SaySo youth shared, “I love the idea of SaySo becoming a program of Children’s Home Society because I feel like it will give SaySo a stronger voice. After listening to their ideas and how it will affect SaySo positively, I think it will be a great idea. We now have another stable organization backing us up in the work that we do with the same goal, ambition, and love for youth in foster care. I think it’s going to be a great experience and I personally can’t wait to see how much they learn from us with having youth voice at the table.”
“SaySo joining CHS feels like a natural fit, and our values, programming, and focus on the central role of independent youth voice will remain the same. SaySo has a proven track record of engaged, passionate, and loyal youth and alumni who are drivers of systemic improvement. We believe that becoming a program of CHS will help us make an even bigger impact,” said Carmelita Coleman, Director of SaySo.
SaySo receives funding from the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
“North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, relies on SaySo to elevate youth voice and advocate for changes in the child welfare system that directly impact the quality of living for youth in foster care,” said Lisa Cauley, Child Welfare Director, NC Division of Social Services. “Contributions of this very capable group include the development of a bill of rights for youth in foster care and shaping policy that provides youth greater access to driving and extracurricular activities. As a part of the Children’s Home Society team, we believe that the valuable work of this group will continue.”