Re-envisioning Foster Care in America
An Initiative Designed to Foster Engagement, Change and Success
The Re-envisioning Foster Care in America (REFCA) Initiative seeks to change the culture and practice of how we perceive and support children and youth in the public foster care system in the Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin County region of Western Massachusetts. The REFCA Initiative envisions a collaborative, multi-sector and active “lab” that engages individuals and organizations in our region in a vital process of dialogue, engagement, reflection and action over time to support change and positive outcomes for youth in care. Initiative organizers are Friends of Children, The Rudd Adoption Research Program at UMass Amherst, and The Treehouse Foundation.
REFCA Initiative Launch:
The initiative was launched at a gathering on November 15, 2010, which engaged the participation of an invested and multidisciplinary group of 150 stakeholders including families, advocates, social workers, youth, mental health workers, court personnel, politicians, researchers and interested community members from throughout the Pioneer Valley. Initiative launch and direction was informed by input and data gathered through interviews with individuals invested in foster care as well as by local data collection.
Key Issues: Aging Out, Education, and Permanency
Participants engaged in spirited discussions about three key issues facing those concerned with children in care: "aging out" of foster care without a permanent family; challenges children face in the educational system, especially when they move from one community to another; and the goal of a permanent home for every child. These issues have been discussed further in task force meetings. The Third REFCA conference was held on May 31, 2012.
Save the Date for the fourth REFCA conference: May 3, 2013 at Holyoke Community College.