Youth Villages stories
Serena is taking control over her future
Serena’s success from foster care to adulthood, with a little help from LifeSet.
Serena first entered foster care when she was 16 years old.
“When you are taken into foster care, you feel like you lose everything and lose control over your life,” Serena said.
Currently in Tennessee, there are more than 8,000 children in foster care. Serena was one of these youth, removed from her biological home and spending about a year at the Wallace group home in Nashville, until turning 18. Upon exiting foster care with no family support, she decided to enter the LifeSet program to get the guidance and assistance she needed to transition into adulthood.
“I entered LifeSet because I knew I needed help, but wanted to have control over my future,” Serena said. “I also knew I needed help applying to college and learning other life skills.”
LifeSet is a comprehensive program that becomes the bridge from foster care to adulthood. The program focuses on helping young people reach their full potential and successfully achieve independence. Each participant is matched with a LifeSet specialist, who empowers young people to reach their goals through housing, employment, education, budgeting and life skills.
“I love my LifeSet specialist,” Serena said. “We meet regularly, and I feel like she really cares about me and makes an effort to get to know me. She is one of the closest adults I have in my life.”
B.J. Life, Serena’s LifeSet specialist, has worked at Youth Villages for more than 15 years, first in Specialized Crisis Services then transitioning to LifeSet. B.J. helps Serena with her education and independent living skills, including helping her fill out college applications and FASFA forms. She also helped Serena get everything arranged for campus housing.
Serena is now a freshman and honors student in college in Middle Tennessee, pursuing a degree in journalism. She is also looking for a summer internship in public relations.
Writing is her passion, and Serena always has a journal with her. She is even working on a book she hopes to have published.
“I love to write stories and poems,” Serena said. “I am currently working on a science fiction book. I really love to write!”
Serena’s long-term goals are to complete her degree in journalism and become a writer. She also wants to become a foster parent and help kids who have been in similar situations to her own.
“LifeSet has turned out well for me,” Serena said. “My specialist asks me what I want to work on, and we work on it. I would recommend it to other youth leaving foster care.”