Bringing some ‘Inspiration’ to Life Books for Foster Children

Whether many people realize it or not, there is a book somewhere in their house – or their parent’s house – that holds in its pages their history. These books, commonly called photo albums, are often pulled out at embarrassing moments to remind them of a not-so-great haircut or unfortunate fashion choices.

But these books are also a reminder of something else – something much more important.

These children were – are- loved.

For foster kids who are often shuffled from home to home across the country, there are no records of how much they grew between 1st or 2nd grade, or what Halloween costume they wore as toddlers because there are often no photo albums that travel with them to serve as a reminder.
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One Family: Birth Parents and Foster Parents

The goal of foster care across the country is always the same – reunify the child in care with his or her parents as soon as their home is a safe and stable environment. That’s why the Birth Parent National Network, through the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership, is working to improve relationships between both types of parents.

birth parents and foster parents

According to the Children’s Bureau, of the 250,248 children who left the foster care system in the U.S., 51 percent, or about 127, 626 children, were reunified with their parents in 2016. For those children, the assimilation back into the home of their birth parents was often made easier when foster and birth parents worked as a team.

“It is important that the adults in a child’s life coordinate and cooperate effectively, and nowhere is that more true than in the relationship between birth parents and foster parents,” the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership wrote in their official position statement. “Sometimes the child welfare system creates unnecessary barriers to engaging with each other. We believe that in order to be productive at strengthening families, we must collaborate, and have the support of child welfare professionals to do so.”

Born from The National Alliance for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, Casey Family Programs and the Youth Law Center/ Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership aims to identify strategies to help birth and foster parents work together to facilitate reunification and prevent re-entry into the system. The group also looks to increase recruitment of foster parents willing to work with birth parents.
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NJFC Scholars Program Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Youth in care across the nation have an uphill battle when it comes to education. Each time a child is moved to a new foster home they can fall months behind their peers at school. They must overcome staggering odds to graduate from high school, with only half receiving their diplomas. For those that go on to college, the numbers are even more daunting.

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Educational Supports Key in Unlocking Foster Care Graduation Success

Almost 25,000 youth age out of foster care each year, most with the goal of attending college. However, nearly 80 percent of these young adults don’t even enroll and those that do rarely graduate. That’s why states across the country are investing in educational supports to give these young men and women a chance at attaining their educational goals despite financial barriers.

Educational Supports Key in Unlocking Foster Care Graduation Success
The national nonprofit Foster Care to Success, in their January 2014 publication Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care, stated that 84 percent of foster youth ages 17-18 want to attend college, yet only 20 percent manage to do so, and of those, only 3 percent of those graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
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Foster Youth Graduate High School and College at Lower Rates than Peers

With less than three percent of foster youth graduating college nationally each year, many youth who are, or were, in foster care find themselves dangerously disadvantaged educationally.

Foster Youth Graduate high school
The numbers are stark. According to Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation on foster care issues, it is estimated that 30-50 percent of youth exit the foster care system without a high school diploma or high school equivalent. Meanwhile, only 30.7 percent of children who grow up in foster care graduate from high school.
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Traveling with Children in Care

Across the country, families will be hitting the roads for holiday visits with relatives and warm weather vacations. In fact, nearly 51 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more last week for Thanksgiving, according to AAA. For most, traveling in cars, planes and trains are a mild inconvenience of traffic jams and bad airport food. But for parents traveling with children in care, these vacations can turn into nightmare full of screaming kids without proper planning.

traveling with children in care
Traveling with children can be difficult because travel takes them away from everything they know and feel comfortable with and exposes them to an entirely new world. For foster children, whose routine has already been completely uprooted due to being removed from their homes, traveling can be extremely stressful and emotionally draining.

The temptation for many foster parents is to stay close to home to avoid adverse and unpredictable reactions, as well as the possibility of meltdowns in public places. But sometimes traveling is unavoidable, and the truth is, a child with anxiety, autism or any other hurdle is still a kid who wants to be part of the family vacation.
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