Tag Archive

Something Of Their Own

Published on October 11, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

This past summer, I witnessed two professionals with different backgrounds having a polite but serious disagreement about whether a workforce readiness program should be limited to youth in foster care or expanded to include other disconnected young people.


The “Educator” was advocating for an exclusive group despite the fact that in her previous “mixed” group the kids in care were “closed” and less engaged than the other participants. She said that the kids in care had formed a clique. She wanted to open up this particular group because in the previous group the Facilitator had worked extra hard to get the foster kids to become active participants with limited success. She went on to say that kids in care needed to mingle with others. (I almost hit the ceiling but maintained my composure because she was not speaking to me at the time.)


Join MARFY and Me

Published on October 7, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Last year I facilitated a workshop titled “Packaged For Success: 5 Steps To Help Transition-Aged Youth Excel” at the 32nd Annual Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY) Conference. I also served as Moderator for the youth panel.


This year I am assisting with the planning ad organizing of the first MARFY Youth Talk Show. This diverse group of young people are unbelievably caring, intelligent, resilient, and humorous. They are simply DYNAMIC! You don’t want to miss it.


Join me at the 33rd Annual MARFY Conference

Collaboration and Integration: How to Play in the New Sandbox

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 – Friday, October 18, 2013.

Clarion Resort Hotel, Ocean City, MD




Nicki Sanders, Chief Visionary Officer of The Teen Toolbox, is a Life Skills Expert who uses her Packaged For Success™ programs to help clients set goals for life and create a road map to reach those goals. Ms. Sanders is an experienced case manager, trainer, and administrator. She offers professional development training for both youth and adults. Ms. Sanders holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and has fifteen years of direct experience with a diverse array of clients in residential, school-based, and community based agencies.


Published on May 6, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Although many people misunderstand them, negatively stereotype them, underestimate them, and are even a bit afraid of them, I love working with teens.  Teens are not just our future – they are our present. I believe that we all have an obligation to prepare a better world for them to inherit and also to adequately prepare them to be world changers. 


As we continue to highlight the great work of various agencies, individuals, and publications throughout National Foster Care Month, today I want to send a very special THANK YOU to all the foster parents stepping in to bring positive changes to so many lives.  Happy Foster Care Month!! YOU ROCK!! (Oh, and by the way, I do realize that society negatively stereotypes foster parents as well).


I have developed a workshop series to support foster parents (and other parents as well) on your journey.


Session I

Yes, Your Teen Needs To Be Packaged For Success™


Session II

Children and Teens in Foster Care Belong to All of Us

Published on May 3, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Every state in the United States has children and teens in the foster care system. These young people belong to all of us. May is National Foster Care Month.  Let’s show that we care.


National Foster Care Month Core Messages


  • The Magnitude – on any given day there are more than 400,000 children in foster care. 


  • The Need – every child needs at least one permanent connection with a caring, trusted adult


  • The Faces of Foster Care – a disproportionate number of children in foster care are children of color but children of race, ethnicity, culture and age group are a part of the child welfare system


  • The Consequences – youth who age out of the system are more likely to experience a variety of negative consequences including homelessness and prison


  • The Priority – older youth aging out of the foster care system without a permanent family and the life skills to become stable and economically self-sufficient adults

Kick Off to National Foster Care Month 2013

Published on May 1, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Today is the day.  May 1st marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month.   This entire month is dedicated to showcasing that each of us can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.


National Foster Care Month 2013 – Supporting Youth In Transition

  • On any given day there are more than 400,000 children in foster care. 
  • Roughly 28,000 youth will leave foster care without a permanent family.


National Foster Care Month also provides an opportunity for acknowledging the thousands of dedicated foster families and other caring individuals and organizations who are already supporting youth in foster care.  We can never publicly recognize all the agencies supporting these young people.  We will highlight various agencies throughout National Foster Care Month.


(Part I) THANK YOU for your great work:


1. Adopt US Kids – Facebook – Twitter

2. Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative – FacebookTwitter

3. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – FacebookTwitter

Mentors, Goal Achievers, Game Changers

Published on January 14, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Dictionary.com defines a mentor as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.  During National Mentoring Month, I want to offer to you that your life is either a cautionary tale or a positive example.  With that being said, you can be a role model or a mentor to someone you may not know personally based on how you live your life.  Your legacy is being created by your personal and professional connections, the integrity with which you work or serve, the strangers you encounter throughout the day, and the blueprint that is being developed by your social media presence.   


The reasons listed above are some of the main reasons that young people look up to celebrities.  I believe that the main reason they look up to celebrities is that celebrities are everywhere – we are bombarded with their thoughts and actions.  This over saturation is the reason that I created SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month. SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month is A Positive Alternative To Hollywood Celebrity Worship. We showcase youth in foster care that are not being defined by their past or their struggles.  We are eliminating negative stereotypes of teens in foster care by celebrating young people who are making a positive impact in the lives of the people in their inner circle and in their communities.   Please take some time this month to create new online mentors by nominating outstanding teens for SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month.

Why Is 21 The Magic Cut-Off Age?

Published on July 26, 2012 By Nicki Sanders

Years ago I worked in a transitional living program for young adults 18-21 years old. The “residents” included teen mothers and a few young people who were in the foster care system.  The teen moms shared a room with their children and all other residents shared one bedroom apartments.  Each person was required to seek employment and deposit a portion of their income in a savings account.  The savings were returned to assist with a security deposit or rent at new place at the end of the resident’s 18 month stay.  Motivated, young people who presented themselves well were admitted to the program.  Many others were turned away.  This is common practice and not unique to this one agency.  Young adults with serious mental health issues or criminal histories were not allowed – in order to keep the residences as safe as possible and “encourage” high success rates.