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May 21, 2024

People First Spotlight: Youth Villages & the LifeSet Program

Data Facts, a technology-driven company built for people, about people, by people, is devoted to corporate philanthropy. We hold our business clients that share this commitment in high esteem. Our “People First” spotlight pays homage to innovative, actionable programs created by our clients that give back to their communities. Our goal with the “People First” spotlight series is to focus on our foundational belief that to truly be successful, companies must be positive corporate citizens.

Data Facts and Youth Villages

Youth Villages has partnered with Data Facts for more than a decade to provide background checks for new employees. These reports are integral to hiring staff who are trustworthy, qualified, and experienced in working with the community’s most vulnerable populations.

Our close association with Youth Villages has allowed us to see first-hand the organization’s positive impact on the area’s family framework and the long-range success of young adults. Their commitment to helping kids and families is why we chose them for our “People First” spotlight.

Youth Villages' Reason for Existing

Two of Youth Village’s main values are “kids’ needs come first … always” and “children are raised best by their families.” The nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping children with emotional and behavioral challenges live successfully.

We talked with Katie Jones, Youth Villages Director of Development for West Tennessee, to gain more insight into their programs. “Our average-aged youth is 13-14 years old, although we work with children and youth from newborns to 22 years old. We operate in 101 locations in 26 states and D.C. and work closely with states and referring agencies to connect with children and families who need our services.”

Jones shares one of the biggest struggles that Youth Villages addresses. “Today, 1 in 20 children in the United States are in state foster care systems, and 20,000 “age out” every year. Without additional support, 1 in 4 become homeless.”

Youth Villages tackles this issue with a multi-pronged approach. Jones explains that “our first goal is to work with families to keep kids in their homes. Our intensive in-home treatment programs focus on helping children and teenagers with behavioral and emotional challenges and their families remain together. Systematic therapy helps family members hone their problem-solving skills and preserve the in-home family unit.”

“We also provide life skill coaching for young adults who have aged out of foster care,” explains Jones. The program, called LifeSet, is an intensive community-based program that provides these young adults with the support they direly need. “Our specialists stay in contact with the young person and help them with things like securing safe housing, building stable relationships, and finding educational and employment opportunities,” says Jones. “Our older youth can use these life skills to forge a healthy, productive life.”

LifeSet, started in 1999, has helped more than 20,000 youth across the United States.

Youth Villages' Success Is Undeniable

The organization’s research department closely follows its children, youth, and families to ensure the programs are working as they should. The results are impressive.

Success is measured by three specific criteria:

  1. Independent living. Do they have safe, permanent housing?
  2. Ongoing education. Are they working toward a certification or degree?
  3. Lack of involvement with law enforcement. Have they avoided police interaction and/or arrest?

Jones shares the compelling results with us. “In 2020, 88% of children and youth were living successfully one year after they completed their programs with us.”

Youth Villages is one of the biggest and most successful organizations in the country for helping young people remain in their homes and assisting those aging out of foster care build productive lives. Visit their website for more information about their work, to donate, or to volunteer.

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