The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 10, 2011

‘Lifelong bonds’

UPJ program prepares foster children for adulthood

Kelly Urban

— The sky is the limit this week on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.

The university is in its third year of hosting the Independent Living Youth Retreat for young people in the state’s foster care program who are getting closer to “aging out” of the system. It’s designed to help them transition more smoothly into adulthood.

The theme is “Imagine ... No Limits,” and the message is to dream big, follow your passions and never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.

About 135 young people, ages 16 to 21, are participating in educational sessions, group discussions and social activities.

They are from 40 counties across the state.

The program is sponsored by the Pitt School of Social Work’s Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program and the state Public Welfare Department’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.

“This is an annual event where we bring foster youth together to experience college life, and it’s a place where they can connect with one another and share their common experiences,” said Wendy Unger, a practice improvement unit leader with Pitt’s Child Welfare Training Program. “They are forming lifelong bonds.”


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