Volume IV | May 19, 2021

The Good Stuff in Child Welfare
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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, the stories we highlight from around the nation show inspiring ways that both the basic needs and social-emotional needs of youth in foster care can be met by caring adults, advocates, systems, and professionals. We hope this read gives you a few moments of hopefulness and a sense of possibility.
 
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HUD Team Nominated For Sammie For Development Of Innovative Housing Assistance Program For Youth Aging Out Of Foster Care
Close the persistent housing and social service gaps facing those leaving foster care. This was the galvanizing suggestion from young people with lived experience that led to the prestigious “Sammie” nomination. Named for Samuel J. Heyman, receiving a “Sammie” is one of the highest honors for federal civil servants. The HUD team of Michelle Daniels, Charles Eldridge, Ryan Jones, and the Foster Youth to Independence Team has been nominated in the “Management excellence” category for their innovative program offering housing assistance and social services to young people aging out of foster care to prevent them from becoming homeless and provide an opportunity for self-sufficiency. The program provides 18- to 24-year-olds aging out of foster care with rental assistance for three years, with the opportunity for a two-year extension, and other support services. After the program’s successful pilot, Congress approved $20 million for fiscal year 2021 for the initiative. The new program fills a longstanding gap in the social safety net and has expedited the much-needed assistance for those leaving foster care. “As a result of this program, these young people, who have already been through so much in their lives, now have some stability. That’s what keeps me going every day,” Jones said. Read more about their nomination here.

Anonymous Donation Of 400 Computers Will Give Foster Children Access To Technology
Texas nonprofit organization Garden of Hope Central Texas received an anonymous donation of 400 MacBook computers, rendering the children in foster care they serve the opportunity to be introduced to STEM education. Following the computer donation, an IT professional also volunteered to teach the children at Garden of Hope’s emergency shelter facility how to repair the computers. These impactful gifts meet the vital need for children in foster care to have equal access to technology and open up a world of possibilities.

Innovative Program Aims To Find Homes for Hard-To-Place Foster Youth during National Foster Care Awareness Month
In Florida, the National Youth Advocate Program has teamed up with the Tampa Bay community to serve some of the county’s most challenging youth in foster care. A new program, called Constant and Never Ending Improvement (CANEI), provides specialized training and coaching to foster parents and evidence-informed approaches for foster children in their care to help them become productive members of their community. Foster parents receive increased financial compensation and training, and intensive ongoing services and support from the CANEI program. Check out this article to learn more about the CANEI program and how you can support their efforts in raising awareness for the needs of children and families in the foster care system.

Foster Care Caseworker Adopts 19-Year-Old Girl Who Aged Out Of System
Most teens who age out of foster care don’t expect to be adopted, including Monyay Paskalides, 19. Enter Leah Paskalides, 32. The two first met when Leah was assigned as Monyay’s foster care caseworker early on in Monyay’s seven years in the child welfare system. Despite growing close, conflict of interest prevented Leah from adopting Monyay – that is, until she aged out of the system. Now Monyay has taken Leah’s last name and finally has the one thing she wanted her entire life, a mom. "It was important to me that she knew that she was wanted by somebody, that somebody loved her. I could say that as many times as I want, but actions speak louder than words," said Leah. Read more of the Paskalides’s inspiring story below.
 
It Takes A Multigenerational Village To Raise Foster Kids 
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Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Oregon are among the first states to create "multi-generational residential villages" designed to connect foster families across multiple generations (youth, young adults, parents, grandparents) to share resources, experiences, and emotional support. These organized communities provide affordable housing, on-site support services, and a network that encourages "neighbors helping neighbors" with lived experience in the foster care system. Learn more about their keys to success and the continued need for intergenerational communities below.

Travelpro® Partners With The She Ready Foundation For Foster Care Awareness Month To Donate Luggage To Youth In Foster Care 
Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish founded the She Ready Foundation to protect, provide resources and ensure normalcy for foster children, as she was in the foster care system as a child. In honor of National Foster Care Month, Travelpro® is partnering with the She Ready Foundation to donate 1,000 pieces of luggage to youth in the California foster care system. The luggage will first be distributed to youth in foster care in LA County, with future shipments to cover California during the remainder of 2021.
 
Darryl McDaniels' Foster Care Charity Celebrates 15 Years: 'A Kid's Situation Doesn't Define Them'
Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC founded a non-profit, the Felix Organization, to provide children in foster care the opportunity to attend summer camp and make lasting memories. Since their inception, they have served over 13,000 youth in foster care. To celebrate National Foster Care Month, the Felix Organization hosted a "Walk This Way" 5K event in New York City to raise funds for the organization. The outdoor, socially-distanced event was planned as a way to get everybody together and celebrate the greatness of what Camp Felix is doing.
 
Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Partners With Nonprofits To Help Former Foster Kids Go To College
The Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program is a new partnership between the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation that will provide scholarships to up to 100 college students in Philadelphia at four institutions. The $1.8 million initiative is planned for three years and will cover college room, board and expenses such as books, computers, and essentials for dorm living, as well as provide an extensive support system for participants. The initiative hopes to increase the number of youth in foster care who attend and graduate from college.

The Field Center team would like to thank the staff and students who brought this newsletter together. Specifically, we recognize our Spring 2021 students Sirui Chen, Daphne Chimbel and Jennifer Kwon for their contributions in providing readers with this uplifting content. Many thanks to our Program Manager 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!