Every child needs a safe, stable, and loving family to thrive. That's why our goal for the millions of American children who are abused, neglected, or orphaned is to help their families heal, when possible, and to make foster care more loving and far less traumatic, when it is needed.
Our country is failing our most vulnerable children: those in foster care and other kids who have been orphaned, abused, or neglected. The child welfare system – the network of federal, state, and local agencies charged with protecting these kids – has been stretched beyond its expertise and capacity. The system places too many poor and minority children in foster care who could be kept safely at home, shuffles children between multiple foster homes and institutions, and further traumatizes them at each step.
This is not only devastating for individual children and their families – the failures of the child welfare system are at the root of some our nation's biggest problems. As many as 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have been in the child welfare system; one-third of homeless young adults were previously in foster care; and most children who are sex trafficked have come from foster care.
Imagine if we could bring the same some modern tools that have unleashed innovation and progress in other fields to child welfare. This is Foster America's vision.
We scour the country for talented professionals who have skills and expertise from other sectors that child welfare agencies need to address the field's biggest, most persistent challenges in new ways: skills in technology, data analytics, design, marketing, finance, strategy and operations. We then provide the training and support they need to succeed as 18-month, full-time fellows in child welfare agencies across America, where they lead major reform projects that require their skills. For example, our fellows with marketing and human-centered design backgrounds help agencies improve their recruitment and retention of foster parents and relative caregivers. Our fellows with technology and data analytics backgrounds help agencies leverage big data to prevent child abuse and neglect.
In the long run, we aim to scale the innovations our fellows develop and build a movement of fellowship alumni who will assume higher leadership responsibilities and transform child welfare outcomes nationwide.