• By Krista Kindley-Martin
  • Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010

DSS LINKS is Awarded a State Best Practice Award

The Family and Children’s Division of the Forsyth County Department of Social Services is proud to announce that LINKS, an independent living program for teens in Foster Care, has won a state Best Practice award through the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services for the creative collaborative program design of TEAM-UP (Teens Engaged in Aspiring Mentorships an Uplifting Partnership).

LINKS is coordinated by Carmelita Burrell, MSW, a senior social worker in the Family and Children’s Division.

Brainstorming for project TEAM-UP (Teens Engaged in Aspiring Mentorships: An Uplifting Partnership) was birthed in October 2008 when representatives from Winston Salem State University and social services staff met to discuss resource allocation and funding options with the purpose to support a locally designed experience for teens and young people impacted by the foster care system.

The seven outcomes of LINKS served as the roadmap of the development of the intentional blend of educational and social activities that are facilitated to enhance awareness, knowledge, skill and application of independent living skills. TEAM-UP is an experience that involves four segments of activities and responsibilities that occur over a four to six-month period of time.

The Seven LINKS Outcomes are that all children leaving Foster Care are to:

  1. Have sufficient economic resources to meet their daily needs
  2. Attain academic, vocational or educational goals
  3. Be connected to people and the community
  4. Have a safe and stable living environment
  5. Avoid illegal/high risk behaviors
  6. Postpone parenthood
  7. Have access to physical and mental health services

Before arriving for TEAM-UP, participants are to read 9 Things a Leader Must Do, a book on leadership development written by Dr. Henry Cloud. Participants arrive at Winston-Salem State University for an on campus experience of four nights and five days, eating on campus, taking a tour and attending sessions in college classrooms. Participants are assigned a research project to explore either a career of their interest or design a business plan. At the end of this initial week, there are follow-up sessions, homework assignments, their final presentation and a graduation ceremony. Following successful graduation, participants are invited to come back for the next year’s program to serve as mentors.

The Family and Children’s Division would like to thank Dr. Notis Pagiavlas, Associate Professor of Marketing and Director Center for Entrepreneurship in the School of Business and Economics at Winston-Salem State University, and other staff, for their dedication, their creative learning opportunities and all of the resources they have poured into this innovative experience for teens and young people to grow and prosper into their best potential.

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