This Friday and Monday, the Foster America team traveled to both coasts and completed Selection Days for fellowship candidates in Seattle and Washington, DC. Judges from a variety of backgrounds, including host agencies around the country, child welfare experts, and leaders from the business and nonprofit worlds, interviewed candidates and challenged them to develop visions for executing a better future for child welfare.
Executive Director Sherry Lachman writes in Time Magazine about inequity and how we can better support families and kids in foster care. "Many children in the broader foster care system — particularly children of color — are separated from their families when preventive services could help their parents overcome the challenges, often poverty-related, that lead to their removal."
Read her article here.
Immigrant children and their parents are being cruelly and needlessly separated at our borders. We oppose this trauma and implore our federal government to expeditiously reunify separated families. Foster care is like chemotherapy: inherently toxic. We must work to ensure that foster care is a treatment reserved for children who truly need it to remain safe and healthy.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- Sherry Lachman - Founder and Executive Director of Foster America
- Elizabeth Duryea - Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff and principal lead in launching DCF’s new Family Stability Program
- Karen Hanson - Director of the Family-Based Recovery Services Program at the Yale Child Studies Center
- Heidi Veltheim- Family-Based Recovery senior clinician
- John Grant - Producer and Writer of Understanding the Opioid Crisis
Listen to the full episode online here.
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:
- A panel of foster care alumni, convened and moderated by Shalita O'Neale of the Fostering Change Network;
- Primer on child welfare and racial disproportionality by Kristen Weber and Jonathan Lykes from the Center for the Study of Social Policy;
- Design thinking with Jessica Mason of the Social Impact Studio;
- Thoughts on effective child welfare leadership from Molly McGrath Tierney, former director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services;
- Hands-on negotiations workshop with Nathalie Laidler-Kylander of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation; and
- Effectively navigating government with Dr. Jeffrey Liebman of the Harvard Government Performance Lab and Taubman Center on State and Local Government.
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.
On January 4, 2018, Foster America's Executive Director Sherry Lachman was the featured guest for an episode of NPR's On Point, recorded at WBUR in Boston. Sherry spoke with guest host Jane Clayson about the opioid crisis and its impact on the child welfare system.
Listen to the full show here.
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.
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.
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!
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/.
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.
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!