• 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

Want to take the quiz and receive credit for this course? Please subscribe below.

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.)

  • For me, I've found success introducing a routine and light expectations for each foster child that I receive. It gives them a sense of normalcy and prompts them to confidence that they have a certain security in my home.

    By 1 week 21 hours ago
  • Establish Routines - Meals, Bedtime, Before School, School, After School, and Weekend Routines.
    Be there to listen, ask questions to clarify understanding, provide suggestions when needed. Be there if they need to cry.
    Introduce children to new activities and support old healthy activities.
    One and one time.
    Talk and let them talk.
    Laugh and help them laugh.

    By 1 week 2 days ago
  • I would let a foster child entering my home know that he or she is safe. I would provide the child with their own space where they can have their own belongings that will be theirs even if they leave and go back home or to another foster home. I would work with their biological parents to make sure I know as much as I can about the child and make sure that the child has contact with their parents on the phone as well and at visits. I would set aside time each day to do activities that the child enjoys and take them on special outings.

    By 1 week 3 days ago



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