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Taylor Hayes—Youth in Transition Case Manager

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When Taylor Hayes started working at United Counseling Service (UCS) two years ago, she did not picture herself working with teenage clients. Now, she is the Youth in Transition Case Manager at UCS’ Children, Youth & Family Services (CYFS) division and heads the peer-led group, Teens4Change, (T4C) on Thursday nights at the program’s Burgess Road location in Bennington. Taylor’s daily work centers around helping to provide stability, help with school, and career building skills for local teenagers who may not get adequate support at home.

“I used to think I wanted to work with littles,” says Taylor. “Then I realized I preferred to work with teenagers. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t started this job.”

Taylor’s career at UCS started with an internship at Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids (PUCK), a program of the Children, Youth & Family Services division. She then worked as a Direct Support Professional in the Developmental Services division, a position she learned about from her neighbor, who was a UCS employee. Flexible work hours allowed her to achieve her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology with a focus in criminal justice from Russell Sage College. After graduating, she started a new job as a Therapeutic Case Manager in CYFS, in which she provided counseling and crisis intervention services for children and families. She recently became the Youth in Transition Case Manager after about a year working in CYFS.

“I really enjoy being able to work with teenagers, because some of them don’t have parents or role models to help them,” says Taylor. “They don’t have anybody guiding them, saying, ‘this is what you need to do to get a job, and this is how to build your resume’.”  

With Taylor’s help, youth learn the tools they need to succeed in and outside of school, and in the workforce. Teens4Change in particular gives kids the opportunity to meet new people, make friends, and become active members of their community. “We have a good group of kids that comes to Burgess Road on Thursdays for Teens4Change,” says Taylor. “We pick them up from school and bring them back to Burgess Road until about 4:30 or 5pm. We do a lot of community service and help the teens to build their resumes so they can get jobs later on.”

The next community service event that Teens4Change plans to take part in is this year’s Green Up Day on May 6, a day to promote healthy stewardship of Vermont’s landscape and natural resources.

Along with running Teens4Change, there is plenty of variety in Taylor’s work as Youth in Transition Case Manager. Any day could include helping kids in crisis and meeting with clients as they navigate the school system, which often includes helping teens in alternative programs figure out their graduation dates. She helps them apply for jobs, teaches coping skills, and comes up with creative ways to help them deal with the complex challenges of today.

In her role, the little successes can be big ones. Taylor recently met with a first-time client who was in foster care and had experienced a significant amount of trauma. During that first appointment, Taylor was able to help her find a sense of calm, eventually sitting down with her to talk. Later that day, Taylor got a text from the teen’s foster parent saying, “I don’t know what it is about you—she never talks.” Since that meeting, that client seemed more comfortable and wanted to learn coping skills. The transformation stuck out in Taylor’s mind.

During her workdays, Taylor supports teens in many different ways alongside fellow members of the CYFS team. At home, she spends time with her family, which includes her one and a half year old son, and takes her two dogs on walks. She loves being outside, whether that means taking a bike ride, going for a hike, or just sitting in nature. The occasional Netflix series is not out of the question when she has the time to unwind after work. This is not often, as Taylor is on track to graduate with her master’s degree in forensic mental health in the fall. She is interested in going deeper into the areas of substance use prevention and keeping teens out of the criminal justice system.

Taylor has a few words of advice for those looking to start their own career in human services. “Take some time to explore different options because the human services field is big and very broad. See what you like before jumping straight into it. Figure out all that it has to offer.”

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