Advocating for Foster Care Youth

Samanthya Marlatt first heard of YSS when she entered foster care at age 11. As she grew up, YSS was there every step of the way. "Through all the ambiguity of entering foster care, aging out of foster care, moving homes—the one thing that was consistent was YSS," she says.

Samanthya stayed connected through YSS's Aftercare program for foster care alumni and was the first-ever graduate of YSS's Post-Secondary Education Retention Program (PSERP).
Recently, her journey came full circle when she joined YSS as the new program manager for AMP, a statewide group that supports foster care youth.

"When I think about my history with YSS, as well as my passion for creating better outcomes for youth who experience foster care, it was a perfect fit," Samanthya says. "It feels like being home."

New & Noteworthy

Alumnus Returns Decades after YSS Saved His Life
At 13, Casey struggled with drug use and an abusive father. When he met YSS founder Dr. George Belitsos in 1974, it was the first time he felt worthwhile. Casey credits that interaction with saving his life.

Nearly five decades later, the two reunited at YSS headquarters. "There's a lot of us out there who are alive today because of George," Casey says. Read his story.
Learn about YSS Kids Club at October Open Houses
YSS Kids Club is hosting a series of open house events Oct. 17-28 to celebrate the national "Lights On Afterschool" campaign.

According to research, 2-6 p.m. are the peak hours in which youth are at risk of getting in trouble with the law. YSS Kids Club offers before- and afterschool care to provide a safe, nurturing environment for K-6 students. Learn more.

Meet Leila

YSS offers counseling to help families and individuals overcome their challenges. Watch Leila's story about finding the help she needed.
"This program has helped my child tremendously. I know it made him feel special, especially during a time when big changes were happening. YSS is making a difference."

– Parent of a student in the YSS Mentoring program

Making an Impact

Curtis C. knew little about YSS when he was invited by a friend to attend Evening with Francis, the annual fundraiser gala for YSS of Francis Lauer in Mason City.

At the event, Curtis—who has a personal connection to substance use—was touched by the stories he heard from youth in YSS programs such as Residential Addiction Treatment. He was proud to support YSS and give back to his community.
"Fundraisers for nonprofits like YSS Francis Lauer are important and don't happen all the time. I'm fortunate to have the means where I can contribute, so I take that seriously. And I got a cool rug!" – Curtis

Program Spotlight

YSS offers Pregnancy & Parenting Education for low-income women in Boone and Story Counties. The Nest program provides educational classes and an incentive program to help mothers purchase baby clothing, supplies, and equipment.
The Healthy Futures program offers one-on-one support including parenting skills education, screenings for child development and maternal depression, and connections to community resources.

Thank You to Our Partners!

Employees from Renewable Energy Group spent a day helping clear the site of YSS's new Ember Recovery Campus near Cambridge. The volunteer event was part of the United Way of Story County Day of Caring on Sept. 19.

Volunteer Opportunities

Get involved and give back to YSS!
  • Volunteer at the YSS Mentoring fall family event on Oct. 15, 10 a.m.-noon, at McFarland Park in Ames.
  • Assist with food prep and childcare at Strengthening Families Weekend Oct. 21-23 for families of YSS Residential Addiction Treatment youth.
  • Organize a donation drive to collect hygiene items such as body wash, shampoo, and lotion. Drop off supplies at IHYC (612 Locust Street).
If you're interested, contact Sarina Flathers at Visit our website to sign up for additional volunteer opportunities.
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