Course Summary

Sometimes it can be helpful to step back and gain a big-picture perspective on foster care. This overview provides basic information about the child welfare system, including how a child enters care in the first place, statistics, and a look at the foster care experience from a young person’s viewpoint. You’ll also receive insight from a national journalist, young people, and the federal government.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • The ways a child can enter foster care
  • The basic path a child welfare case follows
  • What entering care might feel like to a child
  • General statistics for child welfare

Step 1

Watch the ReMoved Film. This fictional short film provides a moving depiction of what entering foster care looks like from a child’s perspective:

Step 2

Watch the The Reality of Foster Kids. Reporter Lisa Ling, producer of Our America, provides some insights she gained as she reported on Los Angeles’ child welfare system:

Step 3

Read the guide,  "How the Child Welfare System Works" This guide from the Child Welfare Information Gateway (a service of the Children’s Bureau) provides a high-level overview of how the child welfare system is designed to work.

Step 4

Review "A Child’s Journey Through Foster Care" , a simplified diagram that illustrates how a child moves through the child welfare system.

Step 5

Read the following "Foster Care Statistics" . Child welfare statistics usually run several years behind the current year. While the statistics shown in this training module are from 2015, they are useful in looking at general child welfare statistics and current trends.

Step 6

Watch the short film, The Well-Being Journey for Youth in Foster Care from the Youth Transition Funders Group, where young people share their foster care experiences:

Step 7

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

Provide one idea, either that you’ve tried, plan to try, or believe a foster parent could try, that would ease a child’s entry into the foster care system. (Please leave out the child's name.)

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Course Discussion

Akellogg's picture

Akellogg said:

Allowing a friend or sibling over gives a child someone they can really talk to.
Rkellogg's picture

Rkellogg said:

I asked my seventeen year old son what he thinks makes a good parent. He immediately answered discipline and being supportive. My favorite parenting technique that I have always used is a numbered checklist. My biological sons and now my granddaughter who is with us full time follow it when they get home from school. It simply starts out with 1. wash hands and ends with " free time." There are no arguments, and everyone knows what is expected from them.
Hill-Hughey's picture

Hill-Hughey said:

I always allow for angry outburst, it helps decrease the anxiety's picture

mariannefjeld@y... said:

I keep a carton of cheap eggs in the refrigerator. When it gets too tough and she doesn't know how to express her feelings, I let her chuck the eggs into the woods off the back porch. It helped my daughter deal with my cancer, so I figured it would help my foster daughter with her feelings too.'s picture

Robinp@rackerce... said:

My situation is a little different as it is a kinship placement and pretty much anticipated. I spent time with the baby with her parents prior to the removal and then spent time with her every day in the hospital for a week until she could come home with me.
goallover15's picture

goallover15 said:

Asking questions and allowing them the freedom to get sad, happy or mad about what has happened to them, and really listening when they open up.
ahnordstiv's picture

ahnordstiv said:

Asking the child to describe his favorite family dinner tradition -- fast food at McDonlad's, cooking together in the kitchen, sitting at the table and talking -- and then doing that.
mhic24's picture

mhic24 said:

Let them talk openly about their parents if they choose to. Having pictures of their parents is comforting to them.
tcallup's picture

tcallup said:

Encourage child discuss there pass but don't force them.
apgcomplete's picture

apgcomplete said:

Encourage the child to share their past, when they are ready. Be very careful to listen and not judge their history. Remind them that their future is not dependent upon their past.