FosterClub Receives $2.5 Million Grant to Advance Racial Equity in Child Welfare through Lived Experience Engagement

Racial Equity LEx Leaders

Press Release

For Immediate Release
February 27, 2024
Contact: Sally Littlefield, FosterClub
503.717.1552 ext 116 | [email protected]

Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2024 – FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Administration on Children, Youth, and Families’ (ACYF) Children’s Bureau, to enhance racial equity in child welfare through meaningful engagement of young people with lived experience.

The grant aims to address racial inequities, biases, disproportionality, and disparities within child welfare. Youth of color are overrepresented in foster care, stay in care longer, have more restrictive placements, lack equitable access to meaningful services, and have other poor outcomes compared to their white peers. FosterClub's project seeks to overcome the historic exclusion of foster youth themselves in identifying root causes and solutions.

“To address concerns affecting the lives of youth involved with child welfare systems, we need to recognize that voices of young people with lived experience in foster care must be centered in ways that are safe, authentic, meaningful, and of mutual benefit,” said Celeste Bodner, Executive Director of FosterClub.

Over the next five years, FosterClub will partner with Ceres Policy Research, the American Public Human Services Association, and the University of Texas at Austin  to carry out this project. Bianca Bennett-Scott, a FosterClub LEx Leader who spent eight years in New York’s foster care system, is one of the 10 LEx Leaders from eight states who will be participating in this project.

“As a Black woman growing up in a Black household, I've often felt that my family was viewed more for their weaknesses than their strengths… [T]he services we did access lacked cultural competence, further hindering my journey towards self-identity and maintaining a connection with my biological family,” said Bennett-Scott. “LEx involvement ensures that the child welfare system is not only responsive but also empathetic to the real challenges faced by those it serves.”

“The leadership and wisdom that young people who have experienced foster care are essential in guiding transformation and change in the child welfare system; not just as a look back on what didn’t work but importantly the vision for what’s needed for the future system of supports,” said Administration for Children and Families Commissioner Rebecca Jones-Gaston. 

FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care, leading efforts to connect, educate, inspire, and represent youth in and from care. The organization aims to realize the potential of these young individuals and empower them to improve the lives of their peers through system change and direct service. At the FosterClub website, young people discover other successful former foster youth, share opinions about their foster care experiences, get recognition for overcoming obstacles, and connect with supportive adults. Visit to learn more.

FosterClub’s Lived Experience Leaders who will be lending their voices to the grant