McKayla Shelton

What drives us
Our Mission

To engage a caring community to help transition age foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and well-being.

Essential Need

Foster youth are placed in a System because of circumstances beyond their control and often leave it feeling Unsure, Unprepared and Disconnected.

The Just in Time

When transition age youth (18-26) leave the System, Just in Time invites them to join a reliable, responsive, and real Community that helps them become Confident, Capable and Connected.

Our Aspirational

Just in Time for Foster Youth envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has access to a Community of lived experienced peers and caring adults after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.

JIT Core Values

We are open, honest and courageous, practicing confident vulnerability even in difficult circumstances.

We think outside the box to find the WIN-WIN outcome together and achieve the best solution for all involved.

We embrace all people with compassion, honoring their value and celebrating their unique identities. I matter, you matter.

We adjust to new challenges and constant change, finding creative ways to support continuous growth and improvement.

We seek to understand first and ask powerful questions to discover what is truly needed.

We engage in a way that inspires our youth, volunteers and our community to reach their full potential.

We hold ourselves accountable and consistently follow through on our words, actions, promises and commitments.

A Brief History









An Extended Family

During the holidays in 2002, San Diego child advocacy attorney Jeanette Day and Diane Cox decided to take a small step to make a difference in the troubling transition of foster youth leaving the foster care system without essential family support after 18.

They delivered 25 holiday gift baskets to young people in empty apartments, often without even a bed to sleep on, and from that act of compassion, Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) was born in 2003.

Louarn and Alan Sorkin provided critical connections to strategic insight to build the “extended family” of volunteers who began to meet the crucial needs of young people leaving care. Starting as an auxiliary of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation (now known as Promises2Kids), JIT obtained 501(c)3 non-profit corporate status and became an independent organization in 2007, under the leadership of then-president Kathryn Vaughn and treasurer Tony Hsu.

A Theory of Change

A volunteer from JIT’s start, Don Wells became JIT’s first Executive Director in 2010 to build on the promise of a reliable “caring community” for the youth we serve.

While committing to hiring lived experience staff to design and implement services, JIT expanded from our original Basic Needs, My First Home and College Bound services to a host of resources delivered by staff and community volunteers.

Measurable impact and disconnection as THE central, lingering “gap” for foster youth became the driving focus with our commitment to helping young people become Confident, Capable and Connected. By filling essential gaps in support, JIT measurably improved the chances of securing meaningful employment with a livable wage, establishing and sustaining stable housing, managing finances for the long term, forming stable families, and ultimately making meaningful contributions to society.

An Ecosystem of Life Changing Choices

The JIT community of critical resources and crucial resources grew and, to increase the scope of available support for our participants in areas where others had more experience and expertise, we embraced the power of partnership and collaboration. We connected with other organizations who shared our transformative paradigm – that foster youth are Creative, Resourceful and Whole and grew up with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), not “broken” children from “broken homes.”

This shift in thinking, that youth must be invited to connect to a community they own, not “placed” in systems and programs that only meet their most basic needs. A community they join voluntarily as partners in their success. Where they don’t feel the need to distance themselves from foster care experience but come to embrace their identity as part of a powerful, resilient community. Seeing themselves as role models, inspirations and exceptional people with bright futures. This new model changes everything and unleashes the power of everyone in our community.

A Model to Share

JIT’s goal is to expand access to our model nationwide, replacing the traditional Systems mindset with a Youth-Centric/Community framework that honors relationships, allows individualized support, respects the participants’ empowered role in their own transformation, and encourages an interconnected collaborative Coach Approach to communication that achieves lasting impact.

Our vision and “Just Cause” is to create a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system across the country truly has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18, and to empower those bridges to well-being to impact 100,000 young people over the next ten years.


Just in Time for Foster Youth has 501(3)(c) status. (TAX ID# 20-5448416)

oWe understand it’s important to know your investment in Just in Time is used efficiently and successfully. That’s why we’re committed to sharing financial statements that accurately reflect the costs of providing our transformative services to the population we serve.

Just in Time is proud to maintain a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator. In addition to being awarded the 2022 Kaleidescope Award for Good Governance, In 2020 we received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, showing we believe our supporters deserve a clear picture of the resources needed to produce outcomes that change lives… one youth at a time.

Our Annual Report

The work we’ve accomplished together is reflected in the pages of this year’s Annual Gratitude Report, a look back at an inspiring series of accomplishments that go even higher than we could have imagined in a time when the only certainty was the strength and resilience of our community.

Inside, you’ll find stories of youth whose exceptional resourcefulness and courage motivate us every day. You’ll also see powerful evidence of how a commitment of over 5,000 volunteer hours, more than 150 collaborations and hundreds of dedicated investors empowered nearly 3,000 young people in transition to become Confident, Capable and Connected!

We also share an update on the lives of eight JIT alumni who are using their lived expertise to advocate, empower and Lead Change within the foster care community. Lived experts, like those found in this report, provide a unique opportunity to inform, inspire and transform the system of foster care from the inside out.

*Request a hard copy of our annual report by sending your mailing address to with the subject line “Annual Report”.

Be Inspired & Stay Engaged!

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive our latest updates and powerful stories of resilience.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed.

Be Inspired & Stay Engaged!

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive our latest updates and powerful stories of resilience.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed.

Be Inspired & Stay Engaged!


Co-authored by Just in Time staff with lived experience, this book is sparking the nationwide conversation around a new, youth-led mental model for young people leaving foster care.



Thank you! You have successfully subscribed.