The history of Foster Care Alumni of America is closely tied to the history of the national alumni movement - in fact, FCAA is a direct result of the national alumni movement.
The first phase of the organized national alumni movement came in 1999 when Casey Family Programs began extensive interviews with over 1800 alumni of the foster care system from across the country for the National Alumni Study. As researchers talked with alumni, they heard over and over "I want to do something to improve foster care. How can I get involved?" Recognizing that alumni brought passion, insight, and expertise that could only be gained by living in foster care, Casey Family Programs created the Alumni Relations department in 2000.
During its first two years, the Alumni Relations department made connections with 1400 alumni from all over the United States. The department found that alumni were active in work on behalf of people in and from foster care in various ways:
Many were foster parents, kinship caregivers and adoptive parents.
Many were social workers, researchers, legal professionals and advocates.
Alumni were participating in foster care program development, legislative advocacy, training for care providers and professionals and speaking publicly about their experiences.
With support from Casey, alumni began to meet one another and work together. From our first meetings, we found incredible strength in each other—a feeling of belonging and kinship that so many of us had grown up without ever knowing. We discovered that we share a culture - the culture of foster care - that gives us an understanding of each other across the ages, across geography, across ethnicities. Our shared culture and experiences form the basis for a community of alumni with a common voice. Bringing together efforts of individual alumni, the alumni movement was born!
As the alumni movement came to life, we identified two overriding needs:
1. To create an organized, supportive and independent community where our shared culture was celebrated and our shared agenda to improve the lives of people in and from foster care could be developed and put into action.
2. To build our skills, knowledge base, resources and energy as a group that enables us to be powerful and build meaningful and effective partnerships with each other and with our allies who share our mission.
Casey Family Programs listened to our voices and responded to our needs. In 2004 Casey Family Programs made a significant investment in the alumni movement by generously supporting the creation of Foster Care Alumni of America. Growing since that time, FCAA is now establishing chapters around the country and building our membership to harness the power of alumni and our allies to make real change. We are at a momentous place with the alumni movement. Alumni who have been working in isolation are finding one another and we are becoming increasingly connected and resourceful.