The Ins and Outs of Foster Care

MI Healthy Mind spoke with Marsialle Arbuckle, Executive Director of The Center For Urban Youth & Family Development. Mr. Arbuckle shared his story of triumph and love after having been abandoned along with his two young brothers by his heroin-addicted parents, and who were ultimately saved by the foster care system. Joining us: Jennifer DeVivo, LMSW, ACSW Executive Director of Fostering Futures who gives her insight and expertise on the goals of the foster care system, and Anthony Pollicella of The Pollicella Insurance Agency who discusses the improvements and changes in healthcare, and in particular, mental health parity.

Brief 2015 Wrap up!

Click here to check out our 2015 Annual Report! A few highlights from 2015:

The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development is proud to present our first ever, Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser: An Evening of Thoughtfulness and Thanks. Join us as we take this time to celebrate and show our appreciation to those who have made our work in the community of the past 6 years possible. Our Keynote Speaker will be Mr. Walter Douglas. Mr. Douglas is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and dedicated friend of The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development. We are proud to honor him with our Character Award for all that he has done for us, and the community at large. The evening will include a guided tour of the museum, live entertainment, hors d'Ovoures, dinner, dancing, a silent auction, networking and more!

  • 2015 Summer Youth Employment Program: Teaching foster youth life skills, workforce development, and drug abuse prevention techniques. Additionally we'll be taking them on college tours, cultural engagements, and community service projects.
  • 2015 Young Adult Parenting Classes: Using Power Source Parenting by Bethany Casarjian PHD as our guide we will be facilitating parenting workshops for young parents and parents-to-be throughout the Detroit area.
  • 7th Annual Prostate Cancers Survivor Golf Outing: its that time of year again! Our 2015 outing promises to be the best yet and you're invited! With 18 holes of golf, lunch at the turn, a skins pot, banquet dinner, raffle/door prizes, and more this event will have something for everyone! Click here for more details!
  • 2nd Annual Community Street Festival: In collaboration with the Coalition on Healthy Youth and Families (CHYF) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Youth Programs, and the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA) we will be hosting a community street festival in the parking lot of the NCADD building. Last year we had free food and games, rides, Zumba classes, a basketball tournament, and Coco from Mason and Coco in the morning as our MC!
  • Check out our facebook page for more up to date info on CUYFD events!!

Inaugural Evening of Thoughtfulness and Thanks Benefit Dinner

December 9th marked the date of The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development's inaugural Evening of Thoughtfulness and Thanks Benefit Dinner. This event served two purposes: to raise money, and to recognize the people who have worked with us over the years to enable CUYFD to do the work throughout the community that it does. We were honored to have local businessman, philanthropist, CUYFD supporter and donor Mr. Walter Douglas serve as our Keynote speaker. Mr. Douglas has been a CUYFD supporter throughout our organizations history, and we were proud to present him with the Character Award. Additionally, as a treat to our guests we were honored to have, Mrs. Carolyn Clifford from Channel 7 WXYZ Detroit, as our award presenter for the night. Mrs Clifford was an outstanding host, and her presence was the cherry on top of a wonderful evening. All together we handed out 7 awards as follows:

Character award

Walter Douglas

Scholarship award

Jamillah and Theodore Caldwell


Rev. Lamar Tabb


Rev. Kate Thorenson


Darnell Jackson


Christian Adams


Barbara Arbuckle

Thank you to all that came, and if you didn't make it this year we look forward to seeing you there next year! More pictures can be found on our facebook page.

Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway 2015


Marseille Arbuckle, Jr. handing out turkeys on the 15000 block of Indiana St.

Marseille Arbuckle, Jr. and oour neighbors were all smiles for the holidays.

Marseille Arbuckle, Jr. and oour neighbors were all smiles for the holidays.

Monday November, 23rd was our annual Thanksgiving box giveaway! Our program director Marseille Arbuckle, Jr. and Executive Director Marsialle Arbuckle, Sr. handed out 10 boxes with turkeys, mac and cheese, dressing, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Special thanks to the Nu Omega chapter of Omega Phi Psi Fraternity Inc. for help sponsoring this endeavor for another year. Happy Thanksgiving!!

“Culture of Success” assembly with 350 MLK ninth-graders


He wears number 59 on the field, but on Tuesday, Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead wasn’t facing an opponent but helping Detroit’s ninth graders at Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School on the east side of the city by showing them how they can succeed in life and school by creating a personal culture of success.

To do this, he teamed up with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for a “Culture of Success” assembly with 350 MLK ninth-graders. The assembly was followed by breakout sessions where students at the Detroit school discussed how to build a strong foundation by creating healthy habits for themselves, choosing their peer teams wisely and reaching out to their support teams such as school staff, community partners, tutors and mentors including the MDDHHS Community School coordinators and Pathways to Potential success coaches for help.

Whitehead is donating his free time on select Tuesdays during football season to help kids in Detroit and make more people aware of the ways to help children and their families tackle obstacles to opportunities that impede success and their long term self-sufficiency. These school programs touch on health, fitness and staying/succeeding in school.

Our own Program Director, Marseille Arbuckle, Jr. was able to represent The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development as a community partner. Check out the full article here

CUYFD Social Justice Project with the Hartford Social Justice Ministry

The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development (CUYFD) conducted a community service project to bring awareness to the disproportionate amount of African Americans in the Michigan prison system. African Americans represent 49% (approx. 20,220 individuals) of the states total prison population of 43,390 people in the Michigan prison system yet they only represent 14% of the states total population.

Sponsored by CUYFD Board Member, Darnell Jackson, CUYFD placed 1000 flags on the front lawn of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church to represent the approx. 20,220 African Americans currently incarcerated in Michigan, to raise awareness about disparities in the Criminal Justice system.

We also sponsored "Reclaiming the Village: A Conference on Social Justice" at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church which featured 'The 3 Doctors' Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt who wrote "The Pact" telling their story about making out of Newark, New Jersey to become doctors and give back to their community. The event was a huge success with over 150 people in attendance.

2015 Annual Back to School Rally

For the second year CUYFD sponsored The Annual Back to School Rally hosted by Light House Community Church! There was free lunch, school supplies, and backpacks given away! Rev. Taft from Light House Community Church has worked closely with The Center on multiple events and is close community partner of ours. The Mumford High School Marching band came through and performed for us for the second year in a row! Thanks to all those that continue to make this event possible.  

Wayne Coubty MYOI/YIT Independent Living and Resource Conference

The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development was delighted to be a part of the Wayne County MYOI/YIT independent living and resource conference at the Bavarian Inn in Frakenmuth.  This conference assisted youth aging out of foster care in gaining knowledge about resources and developing skills to successfully transition into adulthood. Workshop information assisted youth in avoiding criminal behaviors, engaging in violence, addressing health issues, encouraging self esteem, addressing health issues, and how to prepare for a successful transition into adulthood. Our executive director Marsialle Arbuckle was amongst the list speakers.

Foster Care Awareness Month!

In celebration of Foster Care Awareness Month the Center for Urban Youth and Family Development in conjunction with the Michigan Youth Oppertunities Initiative (MYOI) hosted a community beautification project and picnic! We had about 20 foster youth facilitated and we able to rake, clean, and spruce up a few of the vancants on or block. Overall the project was a huge success, the block looks great, and everyone had a great time. We even avoided the rain! Check out more pics in our Foster Care Awareness Month album on Facebook! Foster Care AWareness month flyer

2015 Prevention Collaborative Veterans Forum

Over the past few months, as a member of the Prevention Collaborative we have been working on planning and hosting an event to spread awareness about the dangers of mental health problems and prescription drug abuse in our community. We hosted the Veterans Forum on Mental Health and Prescription Drugs at Wayne County Community College's downtown campus. The event was a huge success! We had over 85 people in attendance, a great panel of professionals and veterans to speak on our subject and provide invaluable information about the services available to veterans in our community, and multiple vendors who provide a backbone of support. We would like to thank all who came out, and those that provided their time and efforts to our cause.  

Program Director Marseille Arbuckle Jr. representing CUYFD as part of the Prevention Collaborative hosting the 2015 Veterans forum on Prescription Drug Abuse.

Michigan Prevention Association Advocacy Day 2015

The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development is also a member of the Michigan Prevention Association, and yesterday we participated in Advocacy Day 2015 at the Michigan State Capitol yesterday. We developed strategies for spreading the word about whats going on in the state legislature as it relates to our prevention efforts and how to involve the community. MPA encourages you to contact your state rep and be vocal about the issues of drug abuse and prevention.  

Our Executive Director Marsialle Arbuckle with members of the Michigan Prevention Association.

2015 MLK Day of Service: Reflections on Social Justice Symposium

This year the focus of our MLK Day of Service was Social Justice. In collaboration with NCADD and MYOI we hosted the 2015 MLK Day of Service: Reflections on Social Justice Symposium. We had guest speaker Kevin Phelps who told his story on social justice in America, and our keynote speaker was the Honorable Ulysses Boykin who discussed current events happening throughout the nation and how they effect social justice in our community. Thank you to all who came out, and a special thank you to the students from MYOI who participated. Guest speaker Kevin Phelps (left) and keynote speaker the Honorable Ulysses Boykin (at the podium).

MLK Day of Service: Pure Peace & Beauty Art Exhibit

Monday January 20, 2014 was Martin Luther King Day of Service and The Center For Urban Youth & Family Development marked the occasion by presenting “PURE PEACE & BEAUTY ART EXHIBIT” featuring the works of emerging African American Artist Brandon Foster. ”What better tribute could we have made in commemorating the legacy of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, than to bring cultural awareness through art to the community?” The event took place at the CUYFD Living & Learning Center located at 15827 Indiana Street on Detroit’s west side. The art exhibit took place from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and was open and free to the public The art exhibit featured over 30 works of art created by artist Brandon Foster including the mural that was done while Mr. Foster was a CUYFD resident (pictured below). Brandon was recently awarded a commission from STARR Commonwealth to do a sculpture for the entry way of their Detroit facility. Brandon is a former employee of CUYFD and also an alumnus of the 2013 Step Beyond Program. Mr. Foster was recently featured in the Michigan Chronicle “Living Well Magazine” and is currently completing his junior year at the College For Creative Studies.

The art exhibit was well attended and included representatives from the University of Michigan Detroit Center - Public Allies program. Also Mr. Foster’s relatives and friends were in attendance. Several of the pieces were purchased and Brandon indicated that the funds would be used to make payments on his tuition at CCS and to purchase art supplies.

Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness & Prevention

The Center For Urban Youth & Family Development collaborated with Laying The Foundation Agency, University of Michigan Detroit Center, Public Allies, Wayne County Department of Human Services-Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative/Youth In Transition, and Citizens United For Youth Development Community Coalition to present a symposium on Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Prevention. The keynote address was presented by Ms. Rowan A. Latif, Wayne County Substance Abuse Coalition Program Director. The activity was held in recognition of April being Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month and May being Foster Care Awareness Month. The event was a milestone for CUYFD in expanding our outreach to begin serving a larger demographic of greater metropolitan Detroit. While the target audience for the event was youth in or transitioning out of foster care, the symposium also served as an educational/training event for prevention professionals, social workers, and community activists. MCBAP Continuing Education Units were awarded to those individuals that completed the symposium. The CEU’s and certification was provided by Ms. Katherine Blakley, Executive Director of Laying the Foundation Substance Abuse Prevention Agency. The University of Michigan Detroit Center provided the facility and technical equipment and services for the symposium. Members of the Public Allies-Team Service Project along with members of Citizens United For Youth Development Community Coalition assisted CUYFD in organizing and coordinating the symposium as well as providing hostess service during the event.

The Wayne County Department of Human Services provided transportation and chaperones for the more than 25 young adults that are members of the Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative to participate in the symposium. MYOI was developed by DHS to provide support such as life skills, financial management, time management, and work force development for youth transitioning into adulthood.

Faith Community Coalition On Foster Care Northwestern Regional Meeting

Ms. Annie Ray, Director of Wayne County Department of Human Services was the keynote speaker on Thursday May 29, 2014 as The Center For Urban Youth & Family Development hosted the FCCOFC Northwestern Region meeting at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Ms. Ray updated the coalition members on the status of youth in foster care in Wayne County, providing statistics on numbers of youth in care, ages, race, gender and other vital data. She also detailed the various programs and initiatives that have been launched to provide support for youth that are in care and transitioning out of foster care. Also Ms. Tracey McCullough, Education Planning Manager, Wayne County Department of Human Services and Mr. Lavern Robinson, Education Planning Supervisor, Wayne County DHS, presented the Educational Planning Process for YIT/MYOI participants and outlined the various “college assistant” and “transition to adulthood” programs available to youth in and transitioning out of foster care.

Other highlights of the evening included a presentation by Michele Austin, President of Foster Closet, a wonderful program designed for individuals to donated gently used and new items of clothing, furniture, and necessities for redistribution to foster parents and children. She currently operates one facility and will be opening a second location in June. Jennifer Brooks, from Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange shared information about the new “Prayer Cards” being used to spread information about youth available for adoption and other efforts underway to facilitated matches between youth and potential forever families. Trina Richardson, Faith-based Initiative Coordinator, Michigan Department of Human Services and Rev. Kate Thoresen provided updates about congregations across the state in action serving youth in foster care and supporting adoptive parents.

Greater Grace Temple represented by Lynda White and Westminster Church represented by Gail Mason collaborated with CUYFD/Hartford Missionary Baptist Church to co-sponsor the meeting. Several representatives from all three congregations attended the meeting along with members of MYOI/YIT. A big thank you goes out to Ms. Marjorie Bowens and her staff for providing transportation to the event for many of the youth that attended.

The Center is in the Drops of Good Campaign

drops of good logoThe Center for Urban Youth & Family Development is competing with nine community centers located across the country to win a $50,000 extreme makeover, Courtesy of Maxwell House and its “Drops of Good” nationwide community project. Fueled by a partnership with Rebuilding Together, the Drops of Good program brings together loyal Maxwell House drinkers and the communities that could use their help. The makeovers do more than just renovate spaces. They give community centers and the populations they serve a renewed sense of hope and pride. The three community centers receiving the most votes between now and June 8 will win the money along with labor provided by the Rebuilding Together organization. The seven remaining community centers will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development is preparing to renovate a house in Detroit for use as a semi-independent residence for youth ages 17-21 that have aged out of the foster care system and are in need of a place to call “home.” The cash prize along with the free labor provided by Maxwell House and Rebuilding Together would be a great blessing to the Center and will allow the renovation to happen much faster than we could hope to complete on our own.

Semi-independent living provides affordable housing to those who are looking to become independent, but aren’t quite ready or able to live on their own. Semi-independent living allows for environments that are structured and supervised, yet allow these young adult residents to begin gaining their independence and the knowledge they will need to fully live on their own and become self-supporting. The semi-independent living arrangement the Center wants to create will offer:

  • A residential assistant that makes frequent visits to the home
  • Regular drug testing of all residents
  • Life skills and workforce development workshops
  • A safe and welcoming environment that allows the residents to focus on other important aspects of their life besides housing – including employment, education and personal health

The Center Wins $50,000

Marsialle Arbuckle, Executive Director of The Center for Urban Youth & Family Development was selected to receive the 2012 Hometown Health Hero Award for his work in Detroit and Livonia. Mr. Arbuckle launched The Center for Urban Youth & Family Development to offer substance abuse prevention, social skills development, academic and conflict resolution services to at-risk youth in the foster care system.