Welcoming SaySo to CHS

Children’s Home Society of North Carolina is pleased to welcome SaySo to its family of programs effective July 1.

SaySo, Strong Able Youth Speaking Out, is a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are, or have been, in the out-of-home care system in North Carolina, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements. Its mission is to improve the substitute care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to youth who have experienced substitute care.

“CHS has partnered with SaySo for many years, and we look forward to formalizing this partnership,” said Matt Anderson, Vice President of Programs, Children’s Home Society. “Given the alignment of the missions and values, it was an obvious choice when SaySo approached us about becoming a program of CHS. We believe CHS will benefit in many ways from this partnership and that we can help SaySo expand their impact. Youth voice and leadership matter, and we believe in the power of youth leadership to make the North Carolina foster care system the best that it can be.”

SaySo began in 1998 and today the organization boasts 27 chapters across North Carolina and a membership of over 500 young adults in foster care and alumni. They remain as committed as ever to elevating youth voice. SaySo works with youth in foster care, foster care alumni, social workers, foster parents, and foster care advocates. Through a series of yearly conferences, events, and opportunities for youth in foster care, they help youth with their lives within the system of care, as well as transitioning out of foster care, by informing them of services and resources available to them and teaching them essential life skills. SaySo also advocates for foster care at the local and state government levels, informing legislators of the challenges and opportunities facing youth in foster care. SaySo has a track record of supporting improvements to the system such as extending critical support services from age 18 to 21 for youth exiting foster care.

A SaySo youth shared, “I love the idea of SaySo becoming a program of Children’s Home Society because I feel like it will give SaySo a stronger voice. After listening to their ideas and how it will affect SaySo positively, I think it will be a great idea. We now have another stable organization backing us up in the work that we do with the same goal, ambition, and love for youth in foster care. I think it’s going to be a great experience and I personally can’t wait to see how much they learn from us with having youth voice at the table.”

“SaySo joining CHS feels like a natural fit, and our values, programming, and focus on the central role of independent youth voice will remain the same. SaySo has a proven track record of engaged, passionate, and loyal youth and alumni who are drivers of systemic improvement. We believe that becoming a program of CHS will help us make an even bigger impact,” said Carmelita Coleman, Director of SaySo.

SaySo receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, relies on SaySo to elevate youth voice and advocate for changes in the child welfare system that directly impact the quality of living for youth in foster care,” said Lisa Cauley, Child Welfare Director, N.C. Division of Social Services. “Contributions of this very capable group include the development of a bill of rights for youth in foster care and shaping policy that provides youth greater access to driving and extracurricular activities. As a part of the Children’s Home Society team, we believe that the valuable work of this group will continue.”

Last year Children’s Home Society served nearly 18,000 North Carolina children and families in its mission to promote the right of every child to a permanent, safe, and loving family. This included providing a safe haven for more than 400 children with foster care families on any given day, giving 178 children a permanent family to call their own through adoption, and providing educational services to nearly 13,000 teens, parents, and professionals.

For more information on Children’s Home Society, becoming a foster or adoptive parent, volunteering, or providing financial support, please call 1-800-632-1400 or visit www.chsnc.org. For more information about SaySo after July 1, please contact Carmelita Coleman at ccoleman@chsnc.org.