Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Foster Care Alumni of America















Postcard Project: Youth and alumni create postcards to share their experience in foster care.

Foster Care Alumni of America
is a relatively new national organization characterized by alumni leadership, partnerships with child welfare organization and positive influence on foster care policy and practice.

Members include:

-Foster foster children ("alumni")
-Child welfare professionals who support our mission ("allies")

We also include and support the insights of young people who currently reside within the foster care system.

What We Do:

Our mission is to connect the alumni community and to transform policy and practice, ensuring opportunity for people in and from foster care.

Why?

Statistics are bleak for young people aging out of foster care. There is a high rate of homelessness, incarceration, unwanted pregnancies and repeating the cycle of foster care.

It is possible to overcome the obstacles -- those of us who are involved in this organization have done so. But it's not enough to make it ourselves if other people are still struggling.

Our vision is to ensure a high quality of life for those in and from foster care through the collective expertise and engagement of foster care alumni.

"Our experience is our expertise"

As former foster children, we are the "consumers" of the foster care system, and can therefore offer an inside view of ways in which it needs to be improved.

While one person's suggestions about the foster care system can be ignored, it is more difficult to silence a collective voice.

Where Did We Come From?
There has been a growing alumni movement over the last several years. Interviews with over 1600 alumni of the system revealed that foster youth and alumni have a shared culture, predictable challenges, and valuable insights that are not available elsewhere.

In May 2006, seven states were chosen, in a competitive process, to be the first seven pilot sites to establish chapters of FCAA.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a network of members—both alumni of the system and our allies who share our mission-- across the country

To learn more, please visit: www.fostercarealumni.org


Three focus areas for FCAA in my state:

1.) Lead trainings and workshops
based upon our experience as former foster children, and subsequent research we have done about the issues


2.) Support the efforts of the statewide youth advisory board,
made up of youth in and from foster care


3.) Facilitate statewide connections,
work towards a "safety net" for emancipated foster youth, so that they don't fall through the cracks.


Ultimately, we want to create a statewide online yellow pages, focusing on the needs of current and former foster youth.

An Online Foster Care Yellow Pages would:
• Help foster youth and alumni succeed, by knowing all of the resources that are available.
• Help identify gaps and needs in service provision.
• Make it easier for child welfare professionals to make and receive referrals.
• Give child welfare organizations the opportunity to share all the services that they provide.

Labels:


Comments:
Dear Foster Care Alumni of America. I have had former foster groups since 1980. Our small group of formers met each month and we had about 44 members.

Since the year 2000 We have had groups for former foster kids alumni, stories, and support groups. We still have those groups and we have three state groups.
You are correct collectly we are consumers and have more of an impact.
Our site is not public with the alumni group but if your a former foster child your welcome to join just give us a bit of info to feel that you are a former. Telll us a little of your history.
The other groups you have to be a former or have an interest in assisting us in makeing change in the legislative and public forum.

Its ok to write me and find out the addresses of the other sites.
thanks for having yours its wonderful. bill ritchotte sr.
 
Dear Bill and all alumni of foster care and people who care about what happens to those in and from foster care,

It's AMAZING and wonderful to hear that you've been working to connect the community of former foster youth for 27 YEARS! It is exactly those kinds of efforts that prompted us to establish Foster Care Alumni of America. We know that having lived in foster care gives us an insight and expertise about foster care that can't be gained in any other way. We also know that it is a part of our legacy to feel isolated, and to lack many of the privileges that usually come from having a family. We've found individuals and groups all over the country that have been working as lone rangers to try to make a difference and we decided to establish a national organization led by alumni where we can pull our giant community together (we estimate that there are 12 MILLION adults who spent time in foster care as children!) in order to be that extended family for one another and to use our expertise to make it better for the ones who come after us.

In addition to bringing together alumni of the system, we also invite our allies to join our efforts. Allies are those people who did not live in placement, but who value the expertise of alumni and who want to bring their own passion and expertise to helping us improve practice and policy in foster care.

I want to be sure you know that in no way does FCAA compete with anything that you've already been doing. We DO want to complement your work and to bring all of you into the national community. Please visit our website at www.fostercarealumni.org and JOIN FCAA. I also invite you to contact me directly should you have questions or want to provide FCAA with more information about you!

Bill, I'll send you more information and an invitation to join at your email address.

With love, Misty Stenslie--Deputy Director and founding member of Foster Care Alumni of America. mstenslie@fostercarealumni.org
 
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