Our Approach


Foster America is responding to a unique opportunity to accelerate change with the support of the boldest governmental partners and communities in the nation. We offer on-the-ground support to those who share our vision. Our approach has two phases:

First, we create a transformation roadmap:
Together with communities and local governments, we chart a path for change. At every step, we connect with local leaders and those who have experienced the child welfare system firsthand. The Foster America Discovery Process helps us work together to set goals; develop plans for the actions, resources, and talent needed to reach them; and define how we’ll measure impact.

Second, we embed with sites to drive change:
Upon developing a roadmap, most sites are ready to take the next steps to effect substantive change. Foster America is a hands-on partner in places committed to multiyear transformation – what we call our engagement phase. During this phase, we build local leadership capacity as well as embed our own staff to lead critical efforts.

Learn about our methods

Discovering Opportunities and Harnessing Strengths

Foster America’s Discovery Process sets in motion a jurisdiction’s work toward transforming the child welfare system. This participatory approach integrates the insights of dozens of stakeholders and creates alignment on the path forward. This comprehensive analysis, which reviews the state or county’s current performance data and ways of working with families, culminates in the Foster America Roadmap Report.

This process seeks to answer five questions:

What role do families and community members play in determining the best ways to support children and parents?


What governmental, community, civic, and business leaders are already collaborating to support family well-being?


How does the jurisdiction work to achieve equitable results, so that children and families of all racial, ethnic, and gender identity and sexual orientation thrive?


What data influences policy and practice decisions?


What policies and financial resources are available now to support change?


Customizing a Strategy for Success

Following the Roadmap Report, Foster America joins the public child welfare system, community leaders, and intergovernmental partners to develop new ways of supporting families. During the engagement phase, we work with our partners to determine which combination of the following supports will build on local strengths – and then we deliver them.

Community Governance

We convene and facilitate a core group of community and intergovernmental partners to set and drive the vision for innovation. This group comprises community leaders as well as those who have firsthand experience with the child welfare system.

Dedicated “Backbone” Coordination

We hire a coordinator with the expertise to ensure the innovation moves ahead. This leader aligns community partners, child welfare practitioners, and intergovernmental agencies.

Innovation Seed Money

While ultimately, governments must support redesigned approaches, we help raise and distribute initial start-up dollars and flexible funds to launch new work.

Measurement and Rapid-Cycle Iteration

We organize data collection as new approaches are tested and bring findings to community advisors who continue to improve results.


We build the knowledge and skills of collaborators through customized local learning opportunities and access to Foster America’s resource library and changemaker offerings.

Specialized Talent

We provide access to at-the-elbow support and expert guidance on an as-needed or full-time basis throughout the engagement process. This often includes locally embedded fellows with expertise in data, finance, or co-design.

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