the state takes over custody of a child, it has both the legal and
moral responsibility to fully prepare that child to become a successful,
participating citizen. Anything short of this is a miscarriage of
that responsibility. If a teen who has been cared for in the system
is forced out of the system without the power and resources to become
independent, then all participants lose - the young person loses the
chance to be productive, and society loses a potential resource. We
all usually end up paying for it in either increased dependency services
or, in the worst case, incarceration and costs of crime. A democracy
should demand that every individual be given a fair chance to achieve
his or her potential."
~ Betsy Krebs and Paul Pitcoff, Beyond the Foster Care System
Youth Advocacy Center's Getting Beyond the System®
Self-Advocacy Seminar (GBS) is a college level class led by a trained
facilitator with a group of ten to fifteen students. It occurs once
a week, for two and a half hours, for a 12-week semester. The Seminar
provides understanding of and experiences with self-advocacy and
culminates in a final project in which every student conducts an
informational interview with a professional in the career of the
young person’s choice.
GBS students are expected to:
- Attend every class
- Participate in class discussion
- Complete written homework
- Prepare for their informational interviews
When GBS facilitators are properly trained and the GBS approach
is supported and implemented by the organization, 80-90% of participating
students will meet the expectations and undertake substantial responsibility
for planning to reach their future goals.
The Seminar uses two educational methods—the Socratic
Method, and the case method -- which elevate learning and understanding
that relates directly to the student’s needs.
The GBS Self Advocacy Seminar is a rigorous program for teens and
young adults that develops the understanding and use of self-advocacy.
It empowers young adults to begin the process of taking on responsibility
to control their transition to successful adulthood. Getting Beyond
the System® is not a stand-alone program, but one that enriches
current transitional, educational, and mental health programming.
GBS provides agency staff with a strong and individualized empowerment
tool that places students in the key role of preparing for their
futures. GBS works successfully in an organizational environment
that is committed to each individual reaching his or her goals.
It encourages and provides means for all staff to transfer knowledge
and more responsibility to the young person, especially in following
through on educational objectives, preparing for a career, and transitioning
to successful independence.