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Aimee Plowman, Director of Transition Age Youth, Given Independent Professional of the Year Award

In May 2021, Auberle’s Director of the 412 Youth Zone, Aimee Plowman, was presented with the Independent Living Professional of the Year Award by the Department of Human Services (DHS). Ms. Plowman was nominated internally for this award by colleagues who have had the opportunity to see the work she has done to create excellence in the programs she leads. Over the last five years, Ms. Plowman has dedicated countless hours to ensuring that essential services are provided to the young people who utilize Auberle’s 412 Youth Zone, and more recently, the Independent Living (IL) Program at Crawford County.

The 412 Youth Zone is a drop-in center, located in downtown Pittsburgh, serves young people ages 16-23 who are transitioning out of foster care. This unique program offers wrap-around services to help clients meet their basic needs, set and reach goals, participate in fun activities, and build positive relationships. Included in the services offered by the Youth Zone are mental health services, legal aid, housing counseling, parenting support, workforce training, and educational support. The 412 Youth Zone was developed by DHS and opened its doors in 2016 under the leadership of Aimee Plowman, and has been growing and evolving ever since. Even over the past year and a half when COVID-19 necessitated closing the doors to the drop-in center, the 412 Youth Zone continued providing virtual programming and direct services from Youth Coaches. The Youth Zone has now begun to reopen its doors and will be resuming in-person services at the drop-in center this month.

In addition to the 412 Youth Zone, Ms. Plowman also oversees one of Auberle’s newest additions: the IL Program at Crawford County. This program is located in Meadville, PA, and provides similar services as the 412 Youth Zone, serving youth ages 14-23 who have been in the foster care system. Unlike the 412 Youth Zone and the IL at Crawford County, the SIL Ward Home facilities are apartment-style living spaces for young people ages 16-20 who have transitioned out of foster care. The youth living in these facilities often take advantage of the services provided by the 412 Youth Zone, as well as many of the other programs within Auberle, such as Behavioral Health Services, the Employment Institute, and STEAM education through the Learning Innovation program.

To gain some perspective on the importance of the services Auberle provides for young adults who are transitioning out of foster care, let’s look to an individual named Lareta. Lareta lived in one of Auberle’s residential houses, GATE/Bloom, for several years. She then moved into Ward Home Supervised Independent Living. During her time with Auberle, she has received mental health services, educational support, employment support, life skills training, and more. Recently, Lareta was able to graduate from high school and is getting ready to move into her first apartment!

One of the most unique and important aspects of Auberle is the holistic nature of its programming. An individual who is transitioning out of the foster care system is able to receive a network of supports that help set them up for success when entering into young adulthood. We know that in order for these young people to succeed, wrap-around services such as the ones provided by Auberle are essential. As we look toward the future, we look forward to continuing to provide these services, and to grow and evolve our programming to best meet the needs of our community.