Foster Care in the News: Tragedy and Hope
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is honored to work alongside nonprofit service providers, advocacy organizations, and researchers who strive to improve the lives of older foster youth in Los Angeles County and New York City.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is honored to work alongside nonprofit service providers, advocacy organizations, and researchers who strive to improve the lives of older foster youth in Los Angeles County and New York City. Over the last few years, the child welfare system has been under increasing scrutiny by the media and communities, most recently in response to the tragic death of Gabriel Fernandez in Palmdale after repeated allegations of abuse. An article in the August 25 edition of the Los Angeles Times speaks to the growing need for capable caregivers for foster youth in Los Angeles County, while To the End of June, a book by Cris Beam released this month, chronicles the challenges and successes of foster families in New York City. Our hope is that at the very least, this increased attention will create momentum for difficult and important conversations about improving the life trajectories of foster youth.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently established a Blue Ribbon Commission on child protection in response to a widely perceived breakdown of the child welfare and foster care systems. This commission, led by David Sanders, a former director of the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, is comprised of educators, judges, and other experts who will provide recommendations for improving these systems.
At the Foundation, we are working to find ways to transform the pathways for transition age foster youth so that they can thrive. Many of our grantees are already doing important and timely work around these issues. In Los Angeles, the Child Welfare Initiative just released a brief on their research and experience around recruiting specialized, therapeutic foster parents who can best serve foster youth in need of supportive and loving homes. The Alliance for Children’s Rights provides guidance and support to families wanting to adopt foster youth of all ages, and along with other advocacy organizations, works to provide system-wide changes that will positively impact the lives of foster youth in California.
In New York, we support the work of the Children’s Aid Society and Fedcap, especially around training caregivers on providing a safe and supportive environment for older foster youth. Our grant to the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund takes a multiple-stakeholder approach to strengthen and coordinate systems for foster youth in both Los Angeles and New York.
While we recognize the complexity that foster children, their parents and caregivers face in navigating the system and the challenges confronting the agencies that serve them, we acknowledge the heightened attention given to the child welfare system right now, and we see opportunity within this growing awareness to make real and lasting change in the lives of foster youth.
Join the conversation: what meaningful reforms would you like to see in programs, systems, and policy that affect foster youth in the United States?