As a graduate of the Camden DREAMS program at Center For Family Services, Kaysie Getty continues to play an active role in advocating on behalf of homeless youth. She stays connected to the young people in Center For Family Services' programs through the Youth Advisory Board.
Kaysie's time at Center For Family Services was a stepping stone on her path to a positive future.
“I never thought I’d have my own place,” recalls Kaysie,“ August 2nd, 2010 is a day I will never ever forget.” This date marks Kaysie’s entry into Center For Family Services’ Camden DREAMS program; and a long way from her start at the Center’s Together Youth Shelter.
Kaysie was born into the foster care system and was adopted at age 2. Years later, when Kaysie was 14, she and her brothers and sisters were placed in foster homes, with some eventually being adopted. Kaysie wasn’t adopted but instead moved from home to home, in search of a stable living environment. “I learned so much from living with so many different people throughout my life,” says Kaysie. “Everyone has a different way of living and it’s important to respect that.”
After several different foster placements, Kaysie found herself at Center For Family Services’ Together Youth Shelter, a temporary emergency shelter providing a safe place to live and a caring, healing home environment.
While family reunification is always the primary goal, because this was not possible, Kaysie transitioned into the Center’s GrandSlam program, a structured transitional living program and supported apartments that provide transitional living assistance to homeless youth.
Slowly, with the help of a supportive staff, Kaysie became more focused. “It was nice just knowing that I had someone to turn to at GrandSlam,” said Kaysie. “Staff helped everyone get ready for prom, I learned to get along with people better, and I was given the opportunity to visit Washington, DC for Network for Good’s National Network for Youth Conference. I would have never been exposed to that if it wasn’t for Center For Family Services."
Kaysie’s graduation from the GrandSlam program corresponded with her graduation from high school and when she began her freshman year at Camden County College in the fall of 2010 she also began a new program at Center For Family Services.
“At Camden DREAMS, you have something you can call your own,” referring to her apartment. DREAMS is a permanent supportive housing program that helps teens “aging out” of the foster care system or those young adults without the support of a family and in need of a safe place to live; a perfect place for Kaysie to learn the foundations of living on your own and setting and achieving goals.
In 2010, Kaysie became president of the Youth Advisory Board at Center For Family Services with the goal of giving all youth an opportunity to have their voices heard. In following years, with support from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Kaysie had the opportunity to attend many conferences to advocate on behalf of homeless youth on a national level. Kaysie worked in conjunction with the state to help make changes to New Jersey’s foster care system by participating in the focus groups and sitting on committees that help influence decisions. Kaysie also helped with a pilot program to allow youth in different parts of the state to be able to attend their court hearings about their placement. She also appeared in a video encouraging youth to keep their DCPP cases open until they turn 21.
Kaysie graduated from Center For Family Services Camden DREAMS’ program in the spring of 2014 and moved into her own apartment. Currently, she is finishing her coursework at Rutgers University with the goal of receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the School of Social Work. Kaysie works with Center For Family Services as the Youth Advocate. She also works with the Rutgers School of Social Work as a Youth Advisory Board Ambassador where she helps oversee New Jersey’s county Youth Advisory Boards, which give feedback to the NJ child welfare system. Additionally, Kaysie is a trainer for Youth Thrive, a multi-year initiative that examines how foster youth can be supported in ways that advance healthy development and well-being and reduce the impact of negative life experiences.
Kaysie was recently reunited with her biological siblings with the help of the New Jersey Deptartment of Children and Families. She happily enjoys relationships with both her biological and adopted brothers and sisters. Her future is bright. Kaysie is a strong, confident, and resilient alumni of Center For Family Services. She remains committed to helping others who are currently in the NJ foster care system. Kaysie continues to share her story in an effort to help at-risk youth become successful.
“I want to use my experience to make an impact on youth. We all have a voice and people will listen.”
Kaysie's Awards & Accomplishments:
- Youth Leader of the Year, NJ Alliance of Children, Youth, and Families - 2012
- Against All Odds Award, Mayor's Youth Council - 2013
- Intern, Rutgers School of Social Work Summer Internship Program with the Office of Adolescent Services, Dept. of Children & Families - 2013
- Spark Action Top 24 Under 24, Youth Change Makers in America - 2013
- Youth Leader of the Year, Rutgers School of Social Work - 2014
- DIVA Award, National Hookup for Black Women - 2015
- Congressional Youth Fellowship Shadow
- Member of the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Council