Youth Villages stories

Youth Villages Oklahoma offers opportunities in new programs in Tulsa and Oklahoma City

Whitney Caldwell grew up in Tulsa, but has lived in various cities throughout the last decade, even South Africa. With a soft spot in her heart for her hometown, Caldwell recently came back to serve as an YVLifeSet specialist for Youth Villages.

“It is a beautiful city that has the warmth of a small town,” she acknowledged. “The thing I love most about this city is the people. Tulsa has the friendliest and kindest people of any city I have ever lived in.”

In her role for two months, Caldwell feels similarly about working for Youth Villages as she does working in Tulsa.

“I would highly recommend them working for this organization,” she said. “I have found the people, training and services provided to our clients to be exceptional.”

Caldwell is one of four recent new hires who will work out of the Tulsa’s office.

A number Youth Villages Oklahoma Assistant Director Jessica Moore wants to see grow as the state expands its programs.

“Our leadership is devoted to helping young professionals set and accomplish their goals in their career and in life,” she explained.

A Tulsa native herself, Moore has worked for Youth Villages for eight years — in Dallas, and Memphis before eventually coming back home to the Sooner State.

Youth Villages came to Oklahoma through public-private partnerships between the state of Oklahoma and private philanthropists, such as Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Sue Ann Arnall Family Foundation in Oklahoma City. It serves youth through its Intercept and YVLifeSet programs. There are plans to expand the YVLifeSet program – to help more young people who have experienced foster care – with new offices in Enid and Lawton within the next year.

“Today we are serving 135 kids, families and young people,” Moore acknowledged. “We are still ramping up programs in OKC and YVLifeSet in Tulsa, but we will ultimately have 64 young people at any given time in both YVLifeSet programs, 40 families at any given time in Intercept in both programs, and then 32 young people in Enid and Lawton.”

Tulsa is known for its young professional scene and was named the No. 10 best place to start a career, according to in 2015.

Youth Villages Oklahoma also took top honors in the organization’s Great Place to Work survey last year, chosen as the top Youth Villages’ location, something Moore attributes to their dedication to serving kids, their families and young people.

“Good people that share our philosophy are drawn to the idea and, then, ultimately, to our ability to carry that idea out in practice,” she added. “Our standards are high, which creates better outcomes for kids and families. We offer support, training, and a healthy, fun place to work in a very tough but rewarding job.”

A University of Oklahoma alumna with a degree in social work, Caldwell said she was captured by the spirit of Youth Villages when she visited the website and throughout her interview process.

“I loved the passion, commitment to children and families and the excellence that embodies this organization,” she recalled. “I felt instantly connected to the vision and mission, and had no doubt that I wanted to work here.”

Caldwell also appreciates the support she’s received from the staff to thrive in her position.

“I have been blown away by the training process, the leadership of supervisors/directors and how new hires are really set up for success.”

Jacqueline Salisbury, family intervention specialist from McAlester, Oklahoma, began working in Tulsa in September. Much like Caldwell, she agreed Tulsa has a hospitable charm.

And she too wanted to be part of Youth Villages because of all it can offer the community and for its level of involvement with the families.

Moore said for young professionals interested in helping to move the needle in the state would be interested in a career in Oklahoma.“I love that we can make a difference,” she concluded. “I love that our model works here in Tulsa and OKC just like it does everywhere else, and that we have the opportunity to help the state get more kids home with their families and help more kids who are aging out of the foster care system.”