Volume XXII | November 16, 2022
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 highlight stories from New Jersey, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, and California where individuals and organizations draw on creativity to create positive change. We hope this read gives you a few moments of hopefulness and a sense of possibility.

If there's something you'd like to see here, shoot us an email. Know someone who could use a little Good Stuff in Child Welfare? Send them a copy! We hope you love it as much as we do.
Kids in Foster Care See Dreams Come True, Thanks to New Jersey Nonprofit One Simple Wish
Danielle Gletow of Trenton, New Jersey started One Simple Wish in 2008 to provide “extras” to children in foster care around her state. Through an innovative online platform, the One Simple Wish website shares stories of children where visitors can browse specific wishes and make a donation to grant that wish. There are also opportunities to donate to a Scholarship Fund or a “Life After Fund” which helps young adults who have aged out of care. Today, the organization has grown to all 50 states, granting 25,000-30,000 wishes each year. There are over 400 wishes on the site right now, ranging from $10 - $500, covering things like art sets, bicycles, driver’s education classes, and computers. The list of wishes on the website creates the shared benefits of raising awareness about foster care and providing tangible comfort to children.

Omaha Coffee Shop Hires Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care
A beloved coffee shop in Omaha, Nebraska is opening an additional location and refocusing to hire more young adults aging out of the foster care system. Astute Coffee was formerly The Bike Union and Coffee, a bike shop and café combination. Owner Miah Sommer said that he wanted to refocus and “include the young people more” by expanding employment opportunities through a second coffee shop location. Being an employee at Astute does not just include access to money, but also weekly paid life-skills classes and a small “family”. Young people, like Tavionna Freemont, said about working at Astute “…we found that connection in each other that we needed.”

Fresno Man Contributes to Ending the Foster Care to Prison Pipeline
Juvenile Justice Think Tank is taking the initiative in addressing the foster care-to-prison pipeline. Members of this group have firsthand experience being involved in the justice system as children. Using their experience, they held meetings with White House officials about policies that could prevent similar juvenile justice involvement from happening to other youth in foster care. Founder Blade Oestreich has spent more than ten years advocating for children in foster care and jail. But he is now calling on the community to task local lawmakers to be a voice for kids.

Forever Families: Stylists Offer Free Hair Services for Children of Color in Foster Care
Stylists in Travis County, Texas are providing free hair services for children of color in foster care through a voucher system developed by a local nonprofit, Partnerships for Children. Partnerships for Children said that finding a stylist is just the first barrier, but that affording styles that the children want can be another. The Travis County Hair Care Initiative provides up to $350 an appointment to help children feel their best. One stylist reflected on why the program was important, saying “having your hair done or keeping your hair done, it builds confidence on a daily basis.”

PRCC Creates Scholarship For Foster-Care Students, Holds 5K Fundraiser In Forrest County
Earlier this month, the Forrest County Campus of Pearl River Community College in Mississippi held its inaugural “Costumes for a Cause” 5k and one-mile “fun run”. Proceeds from this event will help establish a scholarship for students who have lived in foster care. Providing unique supports and low tuition, PRCC is proud to offer additional wraparound services that can help students succeed, including a food pantry and clothing closet. Zac Bennett, instructor and administrator, credits student Britney Diaz-Roman with helping PRCC come up with the fundraiser idea. “We thought it would be a good way to not only involve the campus community, but also to bring outsiders in and show everyone what our campus is like,” Bennett says.

Bay Area Organization Expands Foster Family Village
New Life Village is a one-of-a-kind residential apartment community located in Hillsborough County, Florida. It has served as an intergenerational and supportive community working for foster children and their families for ten years to bring them opportunity, hope, and security. Responding to a growing need, New Life Village is building 16 new townhomes to add to the existing 32 homes. Mariah Hayden, executive director of New Life Village, describes the community as “an apartment complex with a mission.” The village offers affordable housing to families with at least three children, helping youth obtain permanency and leave foster care.

The Field Center team would like to thank the staff and students who brought this newsletter together. Specifically, we recognize our Fall 2022 students Meghan Chasar and Em Brandon 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!