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
2017
Tia Knowton-Basford and Huyanna Clearwater

2019
William Bradford

William Bradford has been a long-standing advocate for young people in care, dating back to his own time in the system and reaching forward to today! William was a core member and strong voice for youth on the Permanency Team and for years in YLAT. He has presented on countless youth panels to new resource families, new case-workers, and GAL’s. William was even a keynote speaker at one of YLAT’s annual Teen Conferences years ago at Colby College. He has been an alumni volunteer for the Rockland YLAT group, and he is currently on the Board for Camp to Belong, Maine, as well as a volunteer counselor. This year he will this year serve as Head Counselor for Camp to Belong, Maine, which will utilize and highlight his passion, compassion, positive energy, sense of humor, and commitment to enhancing the experience of siblings and youth in care. It is a privilege to present this year’s Alumni Award to William Bradford, as he truly continues to be an inspiration and champion for youth in care.

2018
Huyanna Clearwater

Huyanna is a quiet yet powerful mentor, leader, and cultural advocate. Huyanna is a Native American and struggled while in care to keep her cultural connections. This experience drives her passion and drives her commitment to improve the Child Welfare System for native and non-native youth in the state and the nation. As a dedicated Alumni Co-Facilitator for the Bangor YLAT group, Huyanna has demonstrated natural facilitation skills which include: creating a safe space for all members and making sure that she is engaging. She has the natural ability to see the strengths in each person and maintains positivity even in the most challenging situations. Huyanna has been a significant partner of the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative, Teen Conference Planning Committee, and the New England Youth Coalition (NEYC). Her work with NEYC led to the creation of a Normalcy Toolkit that is being used to share best practices and policy ideas to support youth in care to experience the everyday activities that are critical to their growth.

2019
Amber Munson

Amber first connected to YLAT through Community Conversations and on panels educating new foster parents and caseworkers. She went on to be an Alumni Co-Facilitator for three years. Amber jumped right in facilitating two YLAT groups with her busy college schedule. Amber brought kindness and laughter to meetings, especially in Skowhegan which was a new YLAT site at the time who only had one youth attending for a few months. Amber attended a national conference where she had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Maine’s Senators, share her personal experiences, and talk about the benefits of implementing federal policy change around trauma training for adults that support youth in care. She is poised, self-confident, and articulate. Amber is a Jim Casey Fellow who was recently invited to join the Jim Casey Initiative Advisory Council (ACOMM.) ACOMM is a group of Jim Casey Initiative Young Fellows who partner with the Jim Casey national team on a range of issues, including national strategies and activities, special projects, and the future of national work to achieve equitable results for young people. Amber has grown into a confident young woman, she is a great role model for youth in care.

2018
Tia Knowlton-Basford

Tia is an amazing advocate and has used her skills to support herself and others. While attending college, Tia worked as a peer mentor to support other students in foster care to navigate college as well as the resources they needed to be successful. Tia graduated college in 2016 and went on to create a program that supports youth who are experiencing homelessness. Her vision, creativity, and patient persistence is felt by those who have the chance to work with Tia. She was recently hired by Maine State Housing to work with their shelters across the state.
Tia has participated in YLAT and in youth panels to help educate the community about how they can better support youth in foster care. Since Tia entered her career, she has continued to participate in the Teen Conference and the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative as a provider and an expert around housing. Focusing on the importance of creating supports and resources to better support youth transitioning out of foster care.

2018
Huyanna Clearwater

Huyanna is a quiet yet powerful mentor, leader, and cultural advocate. Huyanna is a Native American and struggled while in care to keep her cultural connections. This experience drives her passion and drives her commitment to improve the Child Welfare System for native and non-native youth in the state and the nation. As a dedicated Alumni Co-Facilitator for the Bangor YLAT group, Huyanna has demonstrated natural facilitation skills which include: creating a safe space for all members and making sure that she is engaging. She has the natural ability to see the strengths in each person and maintains positivity even in the most challenging situations.
Huyanna has been a significant partner of the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative, Teen Conference Planning Committee, and the New England Youth Coalition (NEYC). Her work with NEYC led to the creation of a Normalcy Toolkit that is being used to share best practices and policy ideas to support youth in care to experience the everyday activities that are critical to their growth.

Foster Care Alumni Award Recipients:

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

Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT)

YLAT is a joint project between Maine’s Youth in Foster Care, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the Muskie School at University of Southern Maine. YLAT is committed to improving the short-term and long-term outcomes for youth who are or have been in foster care.

  • Facebook

YLAT, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, PO Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300, phone: 207-780-5861