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Powerful Youth Advocate Joins the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board

Published June 24, 2019
  • HHSA
  • Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board
  • Mental Health

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25-year-old Kalyn Jones spent most of her high school and college years advocating for the needs of youth, and recently became the youngest voice on the Shasta County Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board. She is passionate about expanding mental health services for youth, especially those, like herself, who grew up in the foster care system.

She says it can be hard for young people to speak up in settings where decisions are being made about the programs that serve them.

“I feel like I can help those who might be intimidated by the system,” she says. When youth are given a space to open-up, she says, “it’s really cool to see that empowerment happen.”

Kalyn entered foster care at age 15, and says it is a traumatizing process, especially if you don’t know how to advocate for yourself.

“Youth like me didn’t ask to go into (foster) care. When you think about it, childhood is the most valuable part of your life,” says Kalyn.

She says when youth grow up with the family they are born into, most likely, they have a “nest” of normalcy that helps them spread their wings.

“You have your parents to do things like help you learn to ride a bike or drive, or get ready for dances, etc.,” she says “In foster care, you are a ward of the court and there are different standards and responsibilities. When it comes time to fly away, the nest can be in pieces.”

However, Kalyn found community supports that helped her stitch her nest back together.

She enrolled in the Shasta College SciFI (Shasta College Inspiring and Fostering Independence) program while she was studying at for her associates degree. She says wouldn’t have graduated without it. During that time, she also became a mentor with California Youth Connection, a statewide youth leadership initiative working to shape legislation and policy to transform the foster care system.

Kalyn went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Ethics, Policy and Justice from CSU Chico. Currently, is also serving the community as a mentor and case manager with Youth and Family Programs. She is also the Shasta County representative on the Mental Health Services Act Oversight and Accountability Commission Youth Innovation Project Planning Committee. 

 

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Contact Community Relations:

Marc Dadigan, Supervising Community Education Specialist, (530) 225-5970

Carrie Diamond, Media Liaison for Stand Against Stigma, In-Home Support Services, Adult Services and Mental Health, Adult Protect Services and alcohol and drug programs., (530) 229-8484

Jill Haskett, Media Liaison for CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal,  Work Readiness, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) programs and other immediate need services, (530) 229-8413

Tim Mapes, Media Liaison for public health programs, Healthy Shasta, Emergency Preparedness, Foster parent programs and programs for children, (530) 245-6863

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