In foster care, there are so many people and organizations doing incredible and innovative work that gets results. Unfortunately the industry is fragmented, and it's difficult to find best practices to replicate in other locations. No centralized "center of excellence" exists (at least that we've ever been able to find). As a result, people waste energy on "reinventing the wheel" when a model program already exists. Here we attempt to share some excellent programs that are working. Please help spread the word!
This page is a work in progress. If you believe something should be added, please contact us.
Quick Links to Sections
I. Easy Ways to Give Toys, Gifts and Other Support to Youth in Care
4Montgomery Kids (Montgomery, MD area) - provide funding for camps, prom, driving school, and the "little extras" to enrich the lives of children in care.
Life Set Network -- Focused on youth transitioning out of care: The LifeSet Network connects former foster and disconnected youth to a network of supporters from around the country. Supporters can interact with youth directly to give some extra advice or just words of encouragement and/or can purchase registry items for youth to help them build a successful start to adult life.
One Simple Wish -- Lists wishes posted on behalf of foster children and at-risk youth all over the United States. From school supplies to toys to sporting equipment and lots more, each wish is as unique as the child who makes it. All wishes are under $500 with most ranging from $10–$100. Also offers other programs to sponsor specific children.
Fostering Great Ideas Programs for your community -- Operation Bear Hug™ donate bears for children when they experience trauma of separation; Making Memories™ donate ready-to-make crafts for families trying to rebuild healthy relationships; Carry On™ provide luggage for children who move from home to home; Goal 123™ give gift cards for youth to celebrate academic, character, or career-based goals.
II. Support & Therapeutic Services for Abused & Neglected Children
A Home Within -- Provides open-ended individual psychotherapy to current and former foster youth, free of charge.
The Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development website helps you easily identify evidence-based programs that help young people reach their full potential. Bullying in schools; youth violence; teen substance abuse; antisocial, aggressive behavior; childhood obesity; school failure; delinquency; youth depression and anxiety.
NUBS -- NUBS’ mission is to nurture resiliency in children through the inspirational stories of rescued animals who were abused and who have bravely given life a second chance. NUBS has three books, YouTube lessons and will launch its Wings Up(TM) companion curriculum program that aligns to Common Core classroom standards. It is especially effective for children in foster care.
III. Unique Living Communities to Support Foster Children
Hope Meadows is an innovative residential community that allows older adults to care for adoptive families. It is a five-block small-town neighborhood where children adopted from foster care find permanent and loving homes, as well as grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to help them grow up in a secure and nurturing environment. Other communities based on this model have sprouted up in the USA. Read an NPR article on the topic.
SOS Children’s Villages is a special living community for children in foster care that also trains professional foster parents. They keep brothers and sisters together with a full time professional foster parent in an individual home to rebuild a loving family life. SOS Children receive comprehensive wrap-around services that address their whole self—physical, mental, and emotional. SOS Children have a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to 54% for the general population of foster children in the United States.
IV. Former Foster Youth Self Reliance and Success
A Place 4 Me's 100-Day Challenge -- Collaborated with more than 30 community partners to help young people with rapid re-housing, living with family or friends, renting on their own, permanent supportive housing or public housing. Reached to goal of housing 100 homeless youth (aged 18-25) and strengthen systems to prevent homelessness for youth aging out of the foster care system.
Youth Moving On -- Located in Pasadena, Youth Moving On (by Hillsides.org) provides former foster and probation youth affordable quality housing and numerous support services to help them transition successfully to adulthood.
Just in Time for Foster Youth -- Just in Time’s mission is unique; they engage a caring volunteer community to develop an “extended family” of consistent and supportive relationships for youth ages 18 to 26. Just in Time’s relationship approach is coupled with comprehensive services and training programs to help youth overcome financial emergencies, get established at home and in college and learn valuable life and career skills.
YVLifeSet -- Operated by Youth Villages, this program helps foster youth transition to adulthood by providing intensive, individualized, and clinically focused case management, support, and counseling. One study shows the program boosted earnings, increased housing stability and economic well-being, and improved outcomes related to health and safety.
Fostering Great Ideas Programs for your community -- Sib-Link™ connect siblings who are in different foster placements; Life Support™ mentor youth to become confident, successful young adults; Go Beyond™ guide youth toward college or career goals.
V. Hiring/Job Training for Current & Former Foster Youth
Doing Good Works -- a social enterprise that sells corporate stationery, promotional products & coffee to organizations and individuals. A portion of proceeds go to foster care support programs and foster youth job training & placement. Offers an affiliate program to generate funds for outside foster care organizations as well.
The Monkey & The Elephant -- a Philadelphia cafe that provides professional, relationship and communication skills to former foster youth during an eight-month employment period.
VI. College / Graduate School Assistance for Foster Youth
Rutgers Summer Housing and Internship Program (SHIP) -- 12-week program from May/early June to August. 40 New Jersey Foster Scholars are given the opportunity to receive quality housing and paid internship positions throughout the summer months. SHIP also offers a 3-credit course, counseling, weekly workshops, and recreational activities.
Seita Scholars Program -- 6-year program at Western Michigan University. The group covers the cost of college for former foster-care youth and is considered one of the most comprehensive programs in the country. Sieta Scholars offers full-paid tuition and year-round housing to students placed in foster care on or after their 14th birthday. Each student is paired with a campus coach who teaches important life skills, such as budgeting for weekly expenses. Volunteers help each student create a financial plan, choose an academic major and develop a career path.
UC Davis Guardian Professions Program -- offers assistance to former foster youth wanting to pursue a graduate degree.
**For links and more information on state tuition waivers, statewide education support programs, and 4 year campus-based support programs for students who experience foster care, visit the National Postsecondary Support Map by Fostering Success Michigan.
VII. Social Worker Training & Retention
Children's Corp (by Fostering Change for Children) -- The more social workers a child in foster care has, the less likely that child is to have a permancey outcome. This innovative social worker recruiting and training program has achieved an average rention rate of 88% per year compared to the NYC average of 60% while also creating future child welfare leaders.
VIII. Birth Parents Training & Support
Fostering Great Ideas Programs for your community: Moms Matter™- encourage birth families to reach the goals of their treatment plan; Thanksgiving Grace™ potluck Thanksgiving meal for children and their birth families; Making Memories™ (Visits) - Guide family visits with crafts and reading time.
IX. Foster & Adoptive Parent Recruiting, Training & Support
Extreme Recruitment® -- Is a race to find permanency for youth using 12-20 weeks of intensive recruitment efforts and permanency preparation. Created by the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, the program harnesses a focused team and private investigators to find forever families for the hardest-to-place children, and the improved results are dramatic.
Fostering Great Ideas Programs for your community: Life In Limbo™ educate the community on foster care and its effects through interactive role play; First Place™ provides foster family support during the first placements to prevent early disruptions; Now What?!™ positive approaches for foster families who struggle while caring for a child; Our Common Loss™ is support foster families when children leave their care.
FaithBridge Foster Care -- Create a foster care ministry at your church. FaithBridge works closely with churches to create growing and sustainable foster care ministries based on the FaithBridge Community of Care model. With this model, FaithBridge and churches not only recruit and train foster families but also build a volunteer network surrounding and supporting each foster family.
FOCUS on Foster Families (mobile app) -- The the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at UCLA launched this mobile app that uses candid video interviews and online tools, to help foster families improve their skills related to communication, emotional regulation, problem solving, and goal setting.
Fostering the Bay -- Inspires and equips churches to raise up at least one foster family with a team of four support friends until there are more than enough families to meet the need.
Raise a Child -- Has developed a system to find—and then support—people who are interested in becoming foster/adoptive parents. As a result, RaiseAChild out performs the national standard by advancing 23% of prospective foster and adoptive parents from inquiry to certification.