Frequently Asked Questions

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is an out-of-home living situation (such as kinship care, a foster home, group home, or residential care facility) for abused or neglected children who need a safe place to live when their parents or relatives can not take care of them.

What does FCAA do?

We do two things: CONNECT the community of alumni together to be an extended family for one another, a source of support and information, and a network of people with a shared culture and experience; and we TRANSFORM foster care practice and policy. We do this by working with our allies to change the stigma associated with foster care, to identify and address challenges in the foster care system, and to identify the best things about foster care and make sure those things happen more often.

What services does FCAA provide?

FCAA is an association that offers a network of alumni, allies, and organizations that join together to form a permanent community and use our expertise to improve the lives of people in and from care. Although FCAA doesn’t focus our work on direct services, many of our chapters work with organizations that provide services and can be a resource. Contact your local chapter for local resource information.

What kinds of activities does FCAA do to meet its mission?

First, we create opportunities for our members to build an alumni community. We do this by providing ways for members to interact directly—at events, through our chapters, and through our partnership with other groups and organizations that convene alumni and our allies. We also provide opportunities for our members to improve the foster care system by encouraging and supporting their advocacy. Our members are involved in advocacy by working directly with administrators and professionals in child welfare, educating legislators and care providers, and creating awareness with the general public about the needs of people in and from care.

What does “alumni” mean and why does FCAA use the term “alumni” to describe former foster youth?

“Alumnus” (singular) means a graduate or former student. The term is most frequently used to describe a person’s relationship to a school and tends to be associated with feelings of pride and accomplishment. Claiming this term for ourselves was a long process of debate and discussion with people who share the foster care experience. We considered other terms that we’ve seen used to describe our group. We chose “alumni” (plural) because we wanted to emphasize our strength and resilience and carry a title we could claim as a badge of honor.

How does FCAA help youth in foster care?

Bringing the expertise of all of our members together helps youth in foster care in a number of ways. First, we decrease the stereotypes about foster care and the sense of isolation and difference that so many current and former youth in care experience by being a visible group of role models and success stories. Second, we improve the policies and practices that affect youth every day by teaching social workers how to be more effective, by showing foster parents ways to support the strengths and talents of the young people in their care, and by influencing the laws that dictate what happens to people in foster care. Finally, we provide a permanent extended family community for young people to join as they enter adulthood. Through that community, many of the family privileges that are often missing in foster care can be found through each other. FCAA also partners with organizations that serve youth in foster care. Please contact your local chapter to learn who our partners are and what services they provide to youth in care.

Who are the members of FCAA?

We have three categories of membership: alumni, allies, and organizations.

  • Alumni members are adults (18 years and older) who have spent time in foster care, kinship care, or other out-of-home placement.
  • Ally members are adults who have not spent time in foster care, but who value the expertise of alumni and who want to support us to improve the lives of people in and from care.
  • Organizational members are agencies or businesses that provide direct or indirect services to people in or from foster care or that want to invest in improving foster care. Organizational members endorse the FCAA mission and seek opportunities to engage the expertise of alumni.
Why should I become a member of FCAA?

Your membership in FCAA makes you part of the permanent and vibrant community we are building together. You are part of the network of people with shared experience and deep expertise about foster care. Through FCAA you can build your own extended network of support while using your experiences to make a difference. Through FCAA you can connect with others and take opportunities to influence foster care practice and policy.

What are FCAA Chapters?

Chapters are local units of Foster Care Alumni of America that operate under its national nonprofit umbrella and mission. They are groups that exist for the purpose of connecting and transforming in their local communities. These groups have formed specifically to meet our mission in their states or regions. Chapters receive information, materials, and support from FCAA to help them identify and achieve their goals.

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