How do I contact the Statewide Foster Youth Success Initiative Liaison?
Jessica Smith has an extensive background in community development, particularly as it relates to at-risk youth populations. Jessica began her career as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a Family Resource Center, working alongside marginalized populations to increase access to services, education, physical and mental health, and parenting resources, particularly for undocumented children and families. During her time as an AmeriCorps volunteer, she collaborated with local education systems, school districts, mental health providers, and a variety of service-providing nonprofits in the area. Jessica then moved on to work for a nonprofit mental health agency for several years, providing Wraparound services to foster and probation youth throughout California. This is where her passion for the foster youth population blossomed.
Jessica went on to obtain a Master of Science Degree in Community Development from UC Davis. Throughout her studies, her passion for equity, participatory processes, community-based research, and civic engagement grew. Her Master’s thesis research focused on former foster youth as they leave foster care and transition into independent adulthood, which entailed a collaborative research process with local foster youth living in THP-P housing.
Jessica has experience in training development and facilitation, curriculum development, research, policy impact, project coordination, case management, and collaboration across a multitude of community and governmental organizations. She continues to be active in her community by serving at various homeless outreaches, tutoring local students living in public housing, and formerly mentoring a Little Sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She is particularly interested in creating systemic changes so that all foster youth have an opportunity to achieve their educational, occupational, and personal goals.