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

Tiffani Melia

Tiffani Melia

Tiffani has shown leadership and has had a positive impact on younger youth who attend YLAT district meetings. Just recently a young lady said, “I’m so glad I met Tiff, she is showing me that I can do it, that things do get better.” Tiffani continues to be an active Waterville YLAT member even through the pandemic. She cares about the young people who attend YLAT and the friendships she has made.
Tiffani is always willing to use her voice for change both locally and nationally. She is a member of the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative and the Teen Conference Planning Committee. She is also a past member of the New England Youth Coalition and attended the Foster Youth in Action conference in California. At meetings with OCFS Tiffani has used her courage and experience to change policies and programming for youth for the better. Tiffani is an impactful speaker using her voice at foster parent training, new caseworker training, and statewide training focused on the importance of permanent relationships for youth in care.
Tiffani is a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services, with a minor in Psychology. She persevered through challenges and ended her time at UMF with a GPA of 3.6 and Latin Honors. Tiffani has been accepted to the University of Southern Maine graduate social work program, where she hopes to someday become an Art Therapist.
Anyone who meets Tiffani will immediately feel comfortable around her. She is smart, kind, caring, and supportive, a loving cat mom, artist, and writer. Tiffani is a positive role model for many young people, which will continue in her ventures as a social worker.

Jacob Hills
Jacob Hills.jpg

Jacob Hills

Jacob has been part of the YLAT community for over ten years and has attended meetings in various YLAT locations, including Bangor, Waterville, and Southern Maine. Jacob has provided support to both new and long-time members of YLAT, showing warmth, compassion, and gratitude. Jacob will go out of his way to make new members feel welcome and is a role model for both young people and adult partners. Jacob has always been a supportive, respectful, and caring friend to others. A friend who will be there for you, make a special trip to Aroma Joe's or stop to get special cookies and Bubble Tea to share with others.
Jacob continues to show his support and commitment to advocating for all youth in care. He is an advocate for LGBTQ+ youth, siblings, and anyone who hasn't had an easy path. Nationally, Jacob represents Maine for Foster Youth in Action, collaborating with leaders from other states on issues that impact youth in care. Locally, Jacob remains committed to creating more resources that support older youth entering young adulthood as a member of Improving Maine as a Collaborative Team and the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative.
In all spaces, Jacob demonstrates composure, mindfulness, and awareness of his audience when sharing his story, and has shown remarkable boundary-setting abilities in all of his advocacy work. Jacob is wise beyond his years; he presents with professionalism and mutual respect for other's boundaries, treating adult partners and with the same standard of behavior. Jacobs’s kindness, professionalism, and commitment to this work is a lasting asset to the YLAT community and will carry him wherever his path takes him.

Foster Care Alumni Award Recipients:

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