Youth Fellowship Wrap Up with Teijah and Billie

In the Spring, we welcomed Teijah and Billie, two of this year’s Child Welfare Youth Fellows. Over the course of the last few months, our team has had the pleasure of working with both of them on some exciting projects. Their passion and drive came through in coordinating a donation drive of over 300 items and backpacks for youth transitioning between placements. The fellows also shared input on a federal driving bill to help youth in care gain independence!

Billie, Teijah, and Schalisha at the fellows’ donation drive!
Billie, Teijah, and Schalisha at the fellows’ donation drive!

Keep reading to hear from the fellows – including their reflections on the fellowship and thoughts on what they’d like to see change in the foster care system.

What would you like to see change in the foster care system?


In my opinion, I believe that the foster care system and the juvenile justice system just kind of drop off the kids at the end without a way to continue to help them transition. Whether they have ended up in adoption, aged out, or went back home, a lot of the time it seems that after they end up in these sections the support stops. Many youth that age out of the system do not have the support at home to help teach them about how to manage their money or somewhere for them to go and I think that it would really help them if these things were more accessible.

I think that they could help provide a transitional program that could be more accessible to the youth and help teach them to keep themselves afloat financially and how to do the things that are necessary to live day to day. There are certain programs such as Bridges to Independence, CEDARS, and Opportunity Passport that are trying to help, however, I think that it would be important to make it more notable as you come close to transitioning out of the system. We could try to educate these youth before it comes time for them to transition about the programs available to them and what they do to help them.

We could volunteer to help mentor the youth. We could help teach them how to manage money, find jobs, write resumes, and take care of their personal needs. We could also give donations to help them in their transitional phases of life and help them feel more comfortable. This could include hygiene products, things to keep them preoccupied in their spare time, or even religious items. A lot of youth in this stage just need to know that they are supported and can look up to someone to help them get ahold of the items that they need.


There are a lot of things that I would like to see a change in the foster care system, but my number one idea is making sure kids have access to therapy or mental services. I think the system feels like they have kids’ best interests in mind when they are removed from homes. Don’t get me wrong, at times removal is very necessary for safety or if a child is in danger. Unfortunately, some of these kids are very young all they know is they are being taken away from their families. We just need to think about how their minds are still developing and going through something like getting taken from your family, whether they are endangered or not is traumatic. These kids should get free mental health support whether that be therapy, extra circular activities, or just a safe place to show emotion until they understand their situation fully.

Children and/or young adults in the system whether that be foster care or juvenile share some of the same traits. Some of these things if not resolved or helped can spill over into school, jobs, and/or their adult lives in the future. A big, shared trait is depression. Others are anger, confusion, loneliness, feeling like you don’t have a real family, and maybe even a sense of guilt. It’s easy to feel like getting taken from your family is your fault especially if they are confused about their situation. I know from experience these emotions/traits, so I know a lot of other kids/ young adults can relate. if I would’ve had some sort of support to sort through these things, I know it would have made a big positive impact.

Although I feel like therapy is very beneficial, it is not as helpful to everyone. Humans are unique, different methods work for many different people. We could look at placing some kids in sports, I know from experience being a part of a team makes a difference. You can build a lot of lifelong relationships or safety nets this way. If children are separated from their siblings or any family for that matter, (which can happen often) I think having the foster family help set up visits would be very necessary. I lost a lot of time with family members that were my best friends because the system neglected to understand I had other family members I loved other than my guardian. The foster families should also step up and be that help to the children in the home it isn’t just up to the system.

I spoke to a therapist in Lincoln, and this was her point of view on how therapy can be beneficial. “Therapy can be helpful in several ways. First, it can provide a safe environment for a child to tell their story. Providing a caring and nonjudgmental space for kids to talk and interact can be very healing. Also, a therapist can share and teach new skills that can help them cope with pain from the past and help prepare them for the future. For example, teaching breathing and self-regulation can help people more successfully cope with stressful situations. Finally, having a positive therapy experience at an early age teaches a child that utilizing counseling can be a useful choice for them throughout their life.“

How was the fellowship for you?


When I heard about the Appleseed fellowship opportunity, I wasn’t sure what to expect besides getting some sort of learning experience. With everything coming to an end I am so proud I took advantage of this opportunity. Not only was there so much knowledge I gained, but I also made great connections, deepened my interest in the career path I’m choosing, and even strengthened my writing skills. I was in the middle of an English class when the fellowship started and after some projects we did, I saw my essay grades go up and it became very easy, as writing usually isn’t one of my strong suits. One of my favorite parts of this experience would have to be the donation drive we put together. Something that always stuck with me going through the foster care/ juvenile process was never really having anything of my own going home to home. This project meant so much to me, it hit very close to home. This is always something I have wanted to do. It was amazing how the idea of everything grew right before our eyes. Seeing all the donations and knowing there will be youth that will have luggage to put their things rather than a plastic bag makes my heart so full. I appreciate all the help and flexibility as well! Schalischa was more than amazing, very personable, and easy to talk to. She went over and beyond for us! I appreciated how not only was she there for the fellowship work, but also made it known she cared about us and our outside lives (in a professional manner Of COURSE!). I absolutely loved the time spent! Thank you all


This fellowship has been a very lasting experience for me. I believe that anyone who can, should definitely get involved in something like this. I have met a lot of really good people and learned so much in this process. I had no idea how much actually went into things like this. I think that this fellowship has really opened my eyes to the good in the world.

Between meetings, planning, and executing the donation drive, I found myself growing really close to the people that I was working with. It was more than just a “task”, it was something that I was able to do and enjoy with others that had the same goal as me. I really enjoyed working with both Teijah, and Schalisha. I think we got along really well and that we were very productive. I had a couple hiccups along the way, but they were very supportive and encouraging. These are people that I would love to continue to stay in touch with. 

The fellowship itself was not only interesting but very informative. The team meetings and the meetings with social workers, and therapists were very helpful and taught me a lot. I really think that this fellowship went very smoothly and that it was a lasting experience for everyone. I learned a lot about how the processes work behind the scenes and how rewarding it can feel when you really know that you helped make a difference.

The donation drive went really well and we gathered a lot of items. Sitting at the drive was not boring either, as we had great conversations and got to talk about a lot of things to get to know each other. Knowing that I was able to help make a difference and work with this group made me very happy.

I also really enjoyed that the hybrid option worked so well. It made it easier to plan around my schedule and make sure I could help and give my all in the project. I think we divided and conquered really well and Schalisha was a huge help along the way! If I could do this again, I definitely would!

Thank you for all of your work Billie and Teijah!
Thank you for all of your work Billie and Teijah!
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