• Navigating the Foster Care System

Credit Hours: 


introduction to foster care

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.


Take the Course:

Estimated time to complete: 2.0 hours

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

B: Watch the video below. Reporter Lisa Ling, producer of Our America, provides some insights she gained as she reported on Los Angeles’ child welfare system.

C: 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. CLICK HERE
D: Review A Child’s Journey Through Foster Care, a simplified diagram that illustrates how a child moves through the child welfare system. CLICK HERE
E: 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 2014, they are useful in looking at general child welfare statistics and current trends. CLICK HERE
F: 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.

G: Continue the conversation on the supportive adult forum by adding a comment to the discussion topic question. CLICK HERE

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Course Discussion 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.)

  • I think it is important to make sure a child feels at ease and not immediately pressured. We sometimes try to hard to make a child "our own" without considering the child's turbulent past. Some people welcome children with elaborate parties and in other overwhelming ways. It is important to avoid putting a spotlight on the child by bringing too many strangers into the home or introducing them to several family members at once. Tenderness is the key, no matter how excited we may be to have a child in our home.

    By 3 days 4 hours ago
  • First, I think we need to remember that a child is scared and sometimes doesn't understand what is going on. I believe that trying to be welcoming while addressing a couple basic rules is necessary. Sometimes the kids are use to eating junk food. You might have to ease them into your style of food. It is ok to do a slow transition from their junk food/snacks they are used to eating to a real meal that is eaten at the table with the whole family present.

    By 6 days 17 hours ago
  • My husband and I are child specific foster parents for our niece and nephew. We found with them, that setting a schedule and a routine helped. They never had that and with both being ADHD they thrive on routine. Anytime the normal routine is going to change (when we know ahead of time) we start telling them several days before so they have time to prepare themselves and it doesn't cause a huge melt down.

    By 1 week 3 days ago



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