Volume XXVIII | May 17, 2023

The Good Stuff in Child Welfare
Welcome to The Good Stuff in Child Welfare!
Our team at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, & Research recognizes that between the all too frequent and grim child welfare stories that make us teary-eyed, clenched-fisted, and faint-hearted, there are inspiring accomplishments and heartening endeavors taking place all over this country at every level of practice. To elevate and promote these encouraging stories, we are pleased to bring you this monthly newsletter emphasizing news stories only about “The Good Stuff” from the broad field of child welfare. This month, we share uplifting stories of the creative developments that come from collaborations and partnerships. We hope this read gives you a few moments of hopefulness and a sense of possibility.
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Opinion: Educating Kids in Foster Care: Lessons Learned from a Unique School in the Bronx
This article highlights the inspiring work happening at Mott Haven Charter School Academy, a New York City School founded over 14 years ago in partnership with The New York Foundling, a large social service provider. Half of the student population is child welfare-involved, including being placed in foster care, receiving prevention services or having ever been involved with child welfare. The other half come from the surrounding school district, a district with poor educational outcomes and many students living in poverty. Mott Haven’s model of enforcing a strong school culture, maintaining robust staffing, and providing social services produces exceptional outcomes: Mott Haven students outperform their peers in the district, city, and state on English and Math tests, and have higher attendance than their city-wide peers in foster care.

Project GRANDD Helps Grandparents Raise Their Grandchildren
Project GRANDD (Grandparents Raising and Nurturing Dependents with Disabilities) is currently serving over 300 grandparents and grandchildren in metro Atlanta. The innovative wraparound program supports families where children are in relative care, but do not have access to the formal resources of the foster care system. The GRANDD program provides support groups, case management, in-home tutoring, information and referrals, material assistance with food, clothing, school supplies, utility bill payments, and rent payments, as well as access to recreational activities like baseball games, bowling, and zoo trips. “Grandparents are the safety net for the parents, but who’s the safety net when the grandparent has to take on this role?” Rainie Jueschke, the executive director for Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability (ISDD), which runs Project GRANDD, said. 

NAU Receives Grant to Develop Novel Program That Provides Services to Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care
Northern Arizona University’s Department of Occupational Therapy has been awarded a $175,000 grant to provide occupational therapy services to 100 youth transitioning from foster care, including assessment and participation in life skills training, mental health and wellness support, transitioning in life roles and maximizing functional cognitive skills. The grant from Vitalyst Health Foundation is a first-of-its-kind Medicaid reimbursement model. Amy Armstrong-Heimsoth, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy and associate clinical professor said “Youth transitioning out of foster care are provided with very little support and preparation to be fully independent adults when they turn 18, and yet that is what we expect of them. These young people face a long history of disparities and inequity, exacerbated by a history of trauma and instability. This new model for Medicaid reimbursement will ensure their occupational therapy needs can be affordably addressed by highly trained health care professionals.”

Livingstone College Opening New Center for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
Livingstone College, a private HBCU in Salisbury, NC, is launching a center on campus for students aging out of foster care. Through a partnership with Home4Me, an adolescent and foster care focused nonprofit, the new center will provide the structure, the support, the stability and the sanctuary that students need to be successful. Livingstone College President Dr. Anthony J. Davis says this subject matter hits close to his heart, because he was raised by a foster parent and wants to ensure that all youth have resources when exiting care. So far, around 20 students have committed to the center in the fall.

New App and Website “FosterPower” is Empowering Florida’s Foster Youth
Over 50 young people with experience in foster care recently helped Bay Area Legal Services launch a new app and website called “FosterPower,” designed to help Florida’s youth in foster care access vital information about their benefits, protections, and legal rights. Volunteer attorneys and law students spent 100s of hours researching and compiling easy-to-understand information on critical topics including independent living benefits, medical health, education, the court process, placement, protections for LGBTQ+ youth, monetary allowance, and more. “When youth know the care they are entitled to receive, they can become empowered and be their own advocates,” said Taylor Sartor, the app’s creator and a staff attorney at the L. David Shear Children’s Law Center of Bay Area Legal Services. The FosterPower app and website are available now on the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and at fosterpower.org.

The Field Center team would like to thank the staff who brought this newsletter together and their contributions in providing readers with this uplifting content. Many thanks to our Associate Director Sarah Wasch for editing and our Administrative Coordinator Felicia Saunders for handling design and distribution. Special thanks to our Managing Faculty Director, Dr. Johanna Greeson for her idea to curate the “good news stories” happening in child welfare!