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Foster Care Alumni Award


Each year, we recognize and honor the important contributions child welfare system alumni in Maine with the Foster Care Alumni Award. We will strive to award to a male and female alumni each year.

The recipient must be a former youth in care, 22 years old or older, who has demonstrated that he or she has:


  1. Made a strong commitment to helping youth currently in care.

  2. Advocated on behalf of youth in care.

  3. Practiced effective leadership within change efforts (such as youth leadership meetings, work groups, committee work, projects, etc.).

  4. Acted as a positive role model for youth in care.

Alumni Award Recipients
2018: Tia Knowlton-Basford and Huyanna Clearwater
Tia Knowton-Basford and Huyanna Clearwater

Monique Brown

Monique Brown

Monique’s commitment to advocating for herself and others has been widely recognized and has provided her with the opportunity to serve in many capacities.  Regionally, she attended the New England Youth Coalition, and on a national youth leadership board know as Leaders United  based within the Youth in Action network, and most recently as a national LEAP fellow through the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Through her participation in these activities over the years, MO has participated in monthly video conference calls, developed curriculum and activities for national conferences, and helped facilitate national conferences.  She has also prepared remarks around policy and practice issues and has presented these remarks to members on the federal senate.  Locally, Monique has served as an educator to new foster parents and caseworkers on how to best support the youth they are working with.  She has promoted a prep tool and best practice outlines on youth voice being involved in decision-making to her peers nationally as well. 

As a LEAP fellow, Mo was responsible for creating a passion project in which she chose to focus on the relationship between youth and their birth families while navigating foster care.  Mo was clear, passionate, and determined to make sure that all young people have a chance to voice their wishes when it comes to connecting with birth families.  Through her passion project, she developed data questions and created training to present at the AFFM annual conference.  She was a powerful guide to younger youth in feeling confident to name their truths even when it was hard to hear.  She brings great energy and compassion to  any work she does.

Noah Patnaude

Noah Patnaude


Noah entered care in 2012 at age 14 and as soon as he learned about Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) he was hooked.   

Since joining YLAT, Noah has strived to be a leader. Noah, like many others, participated in local meetings (and sometimes not so local, traveling over an hour each way). Noah learned everything he could during the meetings while “horsing around” with his peers and getting in trouble. Noah is a pro at the “oops and ouch” rule and can explain it well! He learned to take feedback from adults who believed in him and his leadership potential. Some conversations were not easy, but he learned and kept showing up, always working towards his goal of being a leader.

Noah is a leader who has a strong commitment to helping his peers in foster care and the young people who come after him.  Noah spoke up at YLAT meetings and he attended the year-end meetings with upper management from OCFS (including Program Administrators, Assistant Program Administrators, Supervisors, and Caseworkers). Noah started speaking on panels for new foster parents and caseworkers. Throughout this time, he was asked to learn from his speaking engagements and grow, and how Noah grew!

Noah started facilitating small YLAT activities during his Lewiston YLAT meetings. Working his way to becoming an Alumni Co-Facilitator in Waterville. Since then, he has been invited to speak at special events, training, and groups in New England. This year, Noah represented Maine at the Jim Casey Youth Leadership Institute in Baltimore and was invited to become a Jim Casey Fellow. Through this opportunity, he has stepped into a facilitation role with new caseworker training for OCFS.  This illustrates Noah’s commitment to ensuring that youth are part of making decisions that impact them while they are in foster care.

Noah contributes while working full-time, playing competitive pool, attending college, and being a friend to many. Noah is aware of his busy schedule and has developed amazing skills of saying no to help establish healthy boundaries and hold himself accountable to his commitments to himself and others.

Foster Care Alumni Award Recipients:

2022: Chance Isazu & Leah Cleland · 2021: Tiffani Melia & Jacob Hills · 2020: Mariah Knight & Edward Schnopp · 2019: William Bradford & Amber Munson · 2018: Tia Knowlton-Basford & Huyanna Clearwater · 2017: Kyle Snyder & Stephanie Gerard · 2016: Jessica Harris & Sierra Reed · 2015: Cheri Crossman & Carleigh Lynn Boston · 2014: Josh Magaw & Jill Esty · 2013: Denise Altvater & BJ Kitchin · 2012: Michael Augustine & Kesha Shelton 

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