JMacForFamilies is soliciting applicants for a 13-week healing and skills-building program beginning early next month, in which no more than 10 promising young people with lived experience in the child welfare system will participate.
Applications for the Social Transitional Empowerment Program are due Jan. 26, with the online training kicking off on Feb. 2. Participants in the support group will meet online for 90 minutes every Wednesday from Feb. 2 to May 4. Applicants can be from anywhere in the United States and must be between 18 and 24 years old. Interns will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the program.
STEP participants will learn about the history of the child welfare system, how to be advocates for themselves and their communities. They will participate in skill-building workshops such as how to make presentations to lawmakers, write opinion pieces for publication in news outlets, build a resume and network with local organizations — all as they work on healing their trauma.
JMacForFamilies, founded by New York City parent advocate Joyce McMillan, is a nonprofit that seeks to transform the child welfare system into one that supports families to keep children safe rather than to break them up.
The STEP participants will be learning at the feet of an outspoken critic of the child welfare system. In an interview a year ago with the Parental Rights Foundation, McMillan said the system’s “surveillance” policies or practices had not changed in the year since the COVID-19 pandemic had begun. “It’s business as usual: Destroy families, make money and be happy,” McMillan said.
The organization has offered similar programs in the past, but they were oriented toward parents rather than youth with foster care experience