Expert Testimony to Texas Legislature

Executive Director Sherry Lachman was invited to present expert testimony to the Texas House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse. 

In her remarks, delivered on April 17, 2018 in Austin, Sherry made a powerful case on behalf of the youngest victims of the opioid crisis - children in foster care - and what can be done at the federal, state, and local level to disrupt chronic cycles of childhood trauma, drug addiction, poverty, and punishment.

We are honored to join the national conversation on the opioid crisis and and advocate on behalf of our nation's most vulnerable kids. 

Learn more:

  • Read Sherry's full testimony
  • Watch video of the proceedings (Sherry's testimony starts at 06:40)

 

 Sherry Lachman testifies to Texas House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse

Sherry Lachman testifies to Texas House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse

Cohort 2 Convening in Kansas City, MO

It's hard to believe our Cohort 2 fellows have already been on the job for several months! We loved getting together in Kansas City, MO from April 9-13, 2018 to share the latest and continue our learning journey together.

On this trip, we explored the child welfare landscape in Missouri - where two Foster America fellows are placed at the Missouri Children's Division - and learned from expert faculty members about the application of behavioral insights and results-based leadership practices to child welfare leadership. Fellows also presented their project work plans, linking strategic actions to specific outcome measures. 

Highlights of this convening included:

We look forward to our next fellowship convening in Minneapolis, MN in July!

Foster Parent Recruitment Innovations in Rhode Island

On March 9-11, 2018 the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families hosted a first-of-its-kind foster parent training bootcamp. With over 200 families in attendance, this program accelerated much of the 10-week long training process for foster care licensing into an intensive, 3-day curriculum. Foster America fellow Adam Williams helped to organize this innovative training program to vastly increase the number of potential home-based placements for children in the state's care.

Adam and his colleagues were awarded a Rhody Service Award by Governor Gina Raimando for their work in making this weekend program a success. 

With the initial success of this program in Rhode Island, we look forward to seeing approach being adopted by other states in an attempt to increase the number of foster families and the number of children placed in safe, stable, and loving family environments where they will thrive.

Read press coverage about the event: 

 

 Foster America fellow Adam Williams and colleagues from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, & Families receive the Rhody Service Award from Governor Gina Raimondo

Foster America fellow Adam Williams and colleagues from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, & Families receive the Rhody Service Award from Governor Gina Raimondo

Passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act

On February 9th, 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act was officially passed by Congress and signed into law. The passage of this act will enormously change the lives of those currently in or at risk of entering the foster care system, as well as improve the services that are already in place.

Under this law, federal funding previously reserved for foster care can now be used for evidence-based prevention services, and financial levers will further incentivize states to reduce the use of institutions (congregate care facilities) and instead place kids with families.

With the growing national opioid crisis and more children entering the foster care system each year, improvement of the child welfare system has been needed more than ever. The Family First Prevention Services Act represents the most significant national effort at system reform in years, and will hopefully encourage further federal government involvement in the child welfare system in the future. We are excited about the implications of this law and believe it may also increase the demand for Foster America fellows nationwide. 

Learn more: 

 

Cohort 2 Attends Preservice Training in Seattle

Following their week in Boston, our second cohort of fellows came together to complete their final week of preservice training in Seattle, WA from January 16-18, 2018. The week’s activities and speakers included:

  • A cocktail reception to celebrate the launch of the second Foster America fellowship cohort with honored guest Washington State Department of Children, Youth, & Families Secretary Ross Hunter;

  • A discussion about child welfare systems in the 21st century led by David Sanders, Ph.D., who is the Executive Vice President of Systems Improvement at Casey Family Programs;

  • A result based leadership data walk and workshop with Raj Chawla, Principal of The OCL Group;

  • A site to visit to nonprofit partners Treehouse and The Mockingbird Society

  • A panel on the use of data and technology in child welfare featuring Emily Putnam-Hornstei of the Children’s Data Network, Susan Smith, the Senior Director of Data Advocac for Casey Family Programs, and Brian Clapier, former Associate Commissioner for Research and Analysis at New York’s ACS.

Learning from and working with leaders in the child welfare sector, our Cohort 2 fellows gained vital information to begin their own projects at their new host agency sites. We look forward to following their progress and continuing to see all that they will accomplish througout the Foster America fellowship.

Sherry Lachman speaks on WNPR's Where We Live

Executive Director Sherry Lachman joined an impressive panel on today's episode of WNPR's "Where We Live" to speak about the intersection of the opioid crisis and child welfare in Connecticut and beyond.

Panelists on the program included:

Listen to the full episode online here.

Welcoming Cohort 2

With the beginning of the new year, we are happy to welcome a second cohort of Foster America fellows to our ranks! The twelve new Foster America fellows braved the frigid, snowy weather to join us for an initial week of preservice training in Boston, MA from January 2-5, 2018. In addition to valuable cohort bonding, highlights from this intensive week of learning included:

The Cohort 2 fellows bring a diverse array of professional experiences to the child welfare sector, including backgrounds in data analytics, management consulting, international development, large-scale technology implementation, legal services, and more. The fellows have taken full-time leadership roles to lead high-impact reform projects at the child welfare agencies in Allegheny County (PA), District of Columbia, New York City, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington. We look forward to sharing more about their accomplishments throughout the year ahead. 

Foster America in the New York Times

Read the New York Times op-ed by Foster America's founder and Executive Director Sherry Lachman regarding the plight of children in foster care.  She calls on philanthropists, advocates, corporations, and professionals to help modernize the child welfare system, improving outcomes for kids and reducing longer-term burdens on our social service infrastructure.

It turns out that our child welfare system is a kind of patient zero for the crises overwhelming our other social service organizations.
— Sherry Lachman, Foster America
NYT cover photo.jpg

2017 Year in Review

This has been an incredible year of learning and growth for Foster America, and it would not have been possible without your support.

Please click the box below to read our 2017 Year in Review and join us for the next exciting chapter, as we welcome a second cohort of Foster America fellows in January 2018. Note the fullscreen viewing option for easy readability. 
 

Quarterly Fellowship Convening - November 13-15, 2017 - Washington, DC

Cohort 1 fellows joined the Foster America leadership team in Washington, DC for several days of reflection and celebration of their first year of fellowship service. The gathering started as current fellows supported the Selection Day interview process for Cohort 2 candidates by sharing their experiences during a lunch panel at Halcyon. On Tuesday, the group convened for a day of thoughtful reflection and future program development, guided by Randi Walters and Peter Watson from Casey Family Programs. Fellows also received coaching on presentation skills from Sarah Hurwitz, former speechwriter to First Lady Michelle Obama. On Wednesday, fellows put their coaching into action and delivered riveting final presentations on their work in the child welfare agencies serving Allegheny County (PA), New York City (NY), and Rhode Island. Thanks to the many friends and supporters who joined us for this event hosted at Casey Family Programs. 

We are inspired every day by the impact of the Foster America fellows and look forward to another great year ahead! 

Cohort 1 Panel

Case Foundation #BeFearless blog feature

The Case Foundation featured Foster America in a #BeFearless Blog Spotlight! We are honored to be counted among the organizations working courageously for breakthrough change. Read the full piece online at https://casefoundation.org/blog/fearless-spotlight-foster-america/

This bold experiment, coupled with an organizational culture of continuous experimentation, learning and improvement, positions Foster America, along with its partners in child welfare, to fundamentally transform outcomes for kids and families.

Quarterly Fellowship Convening - June 27-29, 2017 - Washington, DC & Baltimore, MD

Our third quarterly convening brought Foster America to Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD where we had the distinct privilege of meeting with national leaders in child welfare practice and policy. Among many highlights of this gathering was a day of learning and discussion with Molly McGrath Tierney and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services leadership team about focusing on desired outcomes to move the needle for kids and families.

Back in our nation's capital, we enjoyed fascinating conversations with Brenda Donald, Director of the DC Child and Family Services Agency; JooYeun Chang and Barbara Pryor of Casey Family Programs; Rafael Lopez, former Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Judith Meltzer from the Center for the Study of Social Policy; and MaryLee Allen of the Children's Defense Fund. On Capitol Hill, we met with Senate committee advisors Laura Bernsten and Becky Shipp to learn how federal policy advisors work across party lines to push legislation forward on behalf of children and families.

Finally, fellows and Foster America interns participated in an interactive training session about implicit bias with J.C. Faulk. It was an intensive week with tremendous learning opportunities all around. Thank you to our many hosts and speakers, as well as our summer interns who played instrumental roles in coordination of the event. 

Second Quarterly Fellowship Convening - March 27-30, Pittsburgh, PA

Foster America held its second quarterly fellowship convening March 27-30 in Pittsburgh, PA. We are especially grateful to Allegheny County Department of Human Services Director Marc Cherna for hosting us, and to all of our guest presenters for sharing their wisdom and expertise with our fellows.

Don Winstead, principal of Winstead Consulting and former leader of the Florida Department of Children and Families, and Joan Smith, Managing Director at Casey Family Programs, led our fellows through a session on child welfare financing. Dr. Walter Smith, leader of the Children, Youth, and Families Division of Allegheny County DHS, shared concrete examples of the County’s innovative approaches to child welfare case practice, including their preventive work in collaboration with the rest of their integrated human services agency. Erin Dalton, leader of the Data, Analysis, Research, and Evaluation Division of Allegheny County DHS, introduced the fellows to the county’s nation-leading approach to predictive analytics and data use. Erica Brown of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation facilitated a blue sky discussion on transforming child welfare. Cara Jones, founder of Marinus Analytics, and her team at the Carnegie Mellon University Auton Lab taught our fellows how big data can be most effectively leveraged for social impact. Allison Wyatt of Edgility Consulting led a session on professional development and career planning. Our fellows also had the opportunity to visit Allegheny County’s award-winning Youth Support Partners program, where systems-involved youth receive the support of professionally trained young adults, who themselves were formerly received child welfare, juvenile justice, or mental health services. Fellows also visited Auberle's 412 Youth Zone, which provides a comprehensive suite of services to youths 16-23 aging out of the foster care system.

We are looking forward to our next quarterly convening in June. Stay tuned for updates!

2016 Year in Review

2016 was a significant year in the growth and evolution of Foster America. What was once the kernel of an idea to bring fresh thinking and new energy to the child welfare system is now being tested for the first time. We are proud to share highlights of what we've accomplished and our goals for what comes next.

To read the full year in review, click on the image box below:

First Quarterly Fellowship Convening - December 7-9, 2016, Cambridge, MA

Foster America's first cohort of fellows will convene in Cambridge, MA on December 7-9 to engage in peer consultations and participate in skills-based workshops.  Missouri child welfare director Tim Decker will deliver a keynote address.   We are grateful to our trainers and facilitators: Katya Fels Smith, Founder and CEO of Full Frame Initiative; Casey Family Programs; Allison Wyatt, Human Capital and Executive Search Partner at Edgility Consulting; Foster Forward; the Government Performance Lab; and McKinsey & Co. Stay tuned for updates!