• 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 always make sure the child knows that we don't use the term "foster" in my home. That always seems to open the door, and make things a little easier. I tell them they can call me what ever they chose, but foster parent. I believe that makes the child feel more welcome.

    By 3 days 18 hours ago
  • Although I am thoroughly aware of the importance of initially modeling and ensuring a setting filled with a warm welcome, acceptance, hope and safety, the previous informed videos and readings are reminders that serving as a foster parent must be a true calling. Children from these walks of life have various experiences and simply looking for someone to really care, be a good listener and help them determine and provide assistance on their individual roadmap to a better life. Together, we can make a profound difference!!

    By 1 week 5 days ago
  • I can see that permanency is a very important consideration when having a foster child. Taking on a child you don't know can feel very uncertain to a new foster parent, it must be doubly uncertain for the child. It is valuable for the child to feel that they are in a situation that is stable for them. If I have the option to keep a couple siblings together, I would like to do that. I can see how comforting it could be for them to have a brother or sister with them in a strange place.

    By 1 week 5 days ago



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