We estimate that there are 12 MILLION alumni of foster care in the United States. As former foster children, we have an expertise about the system that can only be gained the hard way.
We know the changes that need to happen in foster care policy and practice. We know what makes foster care the best it can be. We work as a community of alumni, and with our allies and organizations, to ensure that foster children—the children who belong to all of us—have the same opportunities and supports as other young people in America.
As adults, we have had time to reflect upon our experiences and make sense of them. We emerged from the foster care system with the passion to dedicate our hearts to making a positive difference, and this desire has often dictated our professional careers.
Because of our personal and professional experiences, we are uniquely aware of the challenges faced by young people in and from foster care. Foster care youth and alumni share the same parent: the government. As people with shared parents, we claim the status of brothers and sisters.
Alumni of the foster care system know intimately what it is like to be removed from our homes, to live in placements, to carry around all of the questions that come with our history with us into the adult world. Therefore, we serve as role models that former foster children can overcome challenges, can navigate our experiences—good and bad—and make our own adult lives.
Consider who else we represent…whose faces and experiences should be part of the planning and decision making in the child welfare system. Negative adult outcomes for people who have been in foster care are not what any of us want for the children for whom we—as citizens—have taken parental responsibility.
It is urgent that the expertise of living in foster care is recognized and embraced at every level of the child welfare system. It is urgent that all of us have a permanent community to belong to where we can find peers, mentors, role models—our brothers and sisters.
Download our alumni expertise flyer to print and share with others.