BALTIMORE, MD – To continue preparing youth in foster care for the future and aiding a successful transition to adulthood, the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) today launched mylife, an interactive website providing foster youth and alumni with the resources and information needed to achieve the life they choose.
The opportunity for foster youth to make their own indelible mark on the website was a critical component of the architecture. From content, design, color palettes, functionality, and mobile responsiveness, foster youth had a seat at the head of the table, providing their input and recommendations at a number of in-person and virtual focus groups held throughout the various stages of the web design.
“mylife embodies two pillars of our mission: assistance combined with paving the way toward self-sufficiency,” said DHS Secretary, Lourdes R. Padilla. “The participation and valuable contributions of Maryland’s foster youth in crafting mylife means they have given a leg up to their peers who are navigating the same terrain. I am filled with pride at their collective maturity and wisdom, and I hope they share that pride, so justly deserved.”
The new website incorporates strengths-based plans to prepare youth, aged 13-21 for adulthood, such as the Ready by 21 programs and Maryland Youth Transition Plan, as well as aftercare services and COVID-19 relief resources, all designed to help ensure self-sufficiency. Everything from how to apply for financial aid, job training, credit reports, healthcare, and housing, mylife provides all the information youth-in-care need.
“Our vision for the mylife website was to create a safe space for Maryland youth in care to seek guidance, learn, and provide feedback on decisions and actions that directly affect their quality of life — such as school, jobs, healthcare, relationships, and more,” said Michelle L. Farr, Executive Director of the Social Services Administration at DHS.
The mylife website’s design organizes resources for foster youth into seven categories: Social Awareness & Self Care, Housing & Homelessness Services, Helpful Tips & Support Services, Credit & Money Management, Education & Employment, Important Life Documents, and Alumni Resources, all of which are provided at a national, statewide, and regional level. An events calendar, a list of contacts, and information on the State Youth Advisory Board round out the information provided on the website important to foster youth in Maryland.
“Teens represent the cutting edge of technology and connectivity, often signaling future changes in adult populations,” said Katherine Morris, Director of Communications at DHS. “With that in mind, we designed the mylife website as mobile responsive first, since we know that phones serve as a youth’s primary method for accessing the internet. All of the work was done in-house, and the ease of the website’s mobility — from the customization features to the user-friendly navigation — can be attributed to our team and their readiness to translate conceptual ideas into fully functional applications.
mylife is just one way DHS continuously looks for ways to benefit youth-in-care and provide opportunities to support them throughout their journey. More information about mylife can be found at https://mylife.maryland.gov.
The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) is the state’s primary social service provider, annually reaching more than one million people. Through its 24 local departments of social services, the agency pursues opportunities to assist people in economic need, provide preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Additional information may be found at dhs.maryland.gov.