Opinion: It’s time to re-envision foster care

“When a child goes into foster care, the government is looking after its greatest asset.”
– Poet Lemn Sissay

Or is it?

Here in America, where the government spends $30 billion annually on foster care, nearly 25,000 young people “age out” of foster care every year without family and community connections. These kids are thus placed at high risk of becoming the next generation of poor and homeless Americans.

Twenty-five thousand young people are “aging out” annually. Add to that the 450,000 children living in foster care. Kids in the foster care pipeline who are at risk of not reunifying with their families, languishing in the system, and “aging out” to homelessness, teen parenting, incarceration, and unemployment.

This is a public health crisis that calls for visionary leadership, swift action, and widespread investment in foster care innovation.

Who better to lead us forward than nationally recognized leaders who have lived in foster care and know firsthand what kids and families need to thrive?

Seasoned professionals with lived expertise who are ready to take their seats at decision-making tables and make sure that nation is creating public policies that improve life outcomes for our most vulnerable children. Leaders who are ready to reduce the number of young people “aging out” of foster care from 25,000 each year to zero.

The Treehouse Foundation is leading the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America movement. Since 2010 we have been building a vibrant national community of visionary leaders who have experienced foster care – innovators who are transforming child welfare so that all kids and families have the resources they need to thrive. We call them REFCA Champions.

Join us as The Treehouse Foundation hosts its 9th national REFCA conference in Boston on Nov. 3-4, 2 days chock-full of ideas, innovation, and lived experience and expertise, featuring REFCA Champions who are addressing this public health crisis head on. https://www.treehousefoundation.net/refca-conference/

Judy Cockerton is founder and CEO of The Treehouse Foundation, established in 2002 to help move children out of foster care into permanent, loving families and communities.

Read the Op Ed on bostonherald.com

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Be Bold. Be Inspired. Be Generous.

Treehouse is Intergenerational Goodness.

When you give to the Treehouse you help bring lifelong family and supportive community connections to children and young people who have experienced foster care.

Your gift also enhances lives with the healing power of arts, music, learning, play, tutoring, love, life skills, mentoring, and leadership development.