Foster Love: Supporting LA County Foster Youth
Foster Love is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the way youth navigate the local foster care system. With almost 50% of the entire state's population of foster youth living in LA County, Foster Love is dedicated to providing critical support, resources, and advocacy thoughtfully curated to fit the needs of individuals and families impacted by the LA County child welfare system.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Foster Love is comprised of motivated individuals who have lived experience within the child welfare system. While some are former foster youth, others are currently foster parents, grew up with foster or adoptive siblings, or have extensive histories working within the field of child welfare. These lived experiences provide Foster Love with a unique perspective into the realities of the local foster care system, allowing the organization to provide support and services that are driven by empathy, compassion, and innovation. Since its inception in 2008, Foster Love has provided pivotal resources to over 650,000 current and former foster youth nationwide with a large portion of this figure being dedicated to systems-impacted youth and families in Los Angeles County. By taking part in large-scale advocacy efforts, centering the voices of local youth with lived experience, and maintaining a trauma-informed staff, Foster Love keeps its finger on the pulse of current child welfare issues.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
This grant will provide critical support for the provision of Foster Love's innovative resources and services to high-risk current and former foster youth living in Los Angeles County. LA County foster youth continue to sit at the intersection of most of our country's major social problems: Homelessness, poverty, human trafficking, food insecurity, and more. Local youth in care are four times more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disorder and seven times more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Despite the fact that almost 100% of high school foster youth in LA County report dreams of graduating from college, only 50% will graduate with a high school diploma and only 3% will go on to graduate from college. Upon aging out, one out of every five local foster youth will become instantly homeless. Within 18 months, 50% will be homeless or incarcerated. Disturbingly, 60% of the children and young adults who have fallen victim to human trafficking are former foster youth. Foster Love works to mitigate trauma, improve outcomes, and provide unprecedented support to this vulnerable population through the provision of one-of-a-kind programs and services. These include but are not limited to the following: Sweet Cases (replacing the trash bags traditionally provided to children in care), STEM Boxes, Back 2 School Packs, full-tuition scholarships, sibling reunification events, mentorship, workforce entry support, emergency financial assistance, and much more.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
At any given moment, there are approximately 30,000 children and youth navigating the traumas of the foster care system in LA County. Each of Foster Love's revolutionary programs are created intentionally and deliberately to target the issues that persist within the child welfare system and plague this often-forgotten population. The following list outlines our vision for the future of foster care in LA County along with the programs we pilot to accomplish this: 1) Return a sense of comfort, dignity, and stability to vulnerable youth during a traumatic time in their lives: Sweet Cases, teen shopping sprees 2) Create an environment in which foster youth can thrive: Sibling reunification events, Bike Build, Build A Board, Birthday Boxes, Superhero Boxes, adoption celebrations 3) Provide foster youth with equitable access to education and workforce opportunities: STEM Boxes, Back 2 School Packs, Family Fellowship scholarship, American Industries scholarship, Rapid Response program
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Foster Love consistently evaluates the effectiveness of its programs internally using a variety of tools and methods to ensure successful outcomes and allow Foster Love to enact strategic programmatic improvements when necessary. These methods include the following: 1) Written and video testimonials from impacted youth, families, and caseworkers, 2) Partner satisfaction surveys, 3) Impact reports, 4) Grant reports, and 5) Data tracking. Foster Love utilizes the CRM software Zoho to diligently track our requests for support, services provided, and resources distributed. As an example, the Family Fellowship scholarship program has worked with 58 transition-age youth and graduated 26 of them with 90% of the program's recipients reaching full completion of their programs. Currently, 10 are pursuing advanced degrees and four have already graduated with at least a Master's. 100% of scholars have found employment in their respective fields and 38% have gone on to pursue a doctorate degree.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 500
Indirect Impact: 1,000