There are many organizations out there whose mission is to help serve children in foster care. On Friday, FosterStrong joins the fray with a unique goal and perspective: To create a media platform for foster youth and alumni to proudly tell their stories their own way.
The new nonprofit will be led by those with lived experience, and its founding membership includes 10 former foster youth. Keri Hope Richmond, who also works on child welfare policy for the American Academy of Pediatrics, will serve as the fledgling organization’s first executive director.
“FosterStrong exists to change the negative narrative and break the stigmas, to show the public the incredible things alumni of foster care are doing now, and to inspire and encourage those currently in the system,” said Richmond, in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change.
FosterStrong will have its virtual launch party Friday from 11 a.m. to noon EDT — the last day of National Foster Care Awareness Month 2020. The organization’s website touts a forthcoming regular podcast series, already includes video content featuring some of the group’s founding leadership, and sells merchandise with its logo and motto: “Unbelievably Resistant.”
Until now, said Allison Davis Maxon, executive director of the National Center on Adoption and Foster Care, there has been no national organization with FosterStrong’s unique outlook and mission.
Too often, “agencies, parents and professionals ‘talk’ from the outside of the experience,” Davis Maxon said in an email, and the messages can feel “shaming, stigmatizing and pejorative” to current and former foster youth.
“This may seem like a minor issue, it is not!” she said. “FosterStrong will help to rebrand foster care to include the authentic voices, stories and talents of alumni.”
While the organization will be led by young adults with experience in the system, the idea for it and seed money came from filmmaker Sean Anders, who made the 2018 hit “Instant Family” starring Mark Wahlberg about a couple who fosters three children. Anders’ chief advisers on child welfare for the film were Davis Maxon and Maraide Green, a former foster youth and current UCLA film student who is also among FosterStrong’s founding members.
“My number one take away from this experience was that the narrative around kids in foster care has been far too focused on the negative,” Anders said, in a press release this week. “Yes, every foster care story begins in tragedy and trauma but these kids possess strength and fortitude that they rarely get credit for.”
Chronicle of Social Change staff reports.