Model & Strategy

Foster America’s mission is to improve the lives of America’s most vulnerable children–those who have been abused, neglected, or orphaned–by building a pipeline of leaders and innovators who will help transform the child welfare system. In June 2016, Foster America launched a fellowship program that recruits, trains, and deploys talented professionals with diverse skills and backgrounds into the child welfare system. Drawing inspiration from other successful fellowship models like Teach For America and The Broad Residency, Foster America seeks to effect change within a bureaucratic system from the inside out by placing successful post-graduate and mid-career professionals to work under change-minded government and nonprofit agency leaders, catalyzing short-term improvements and long-term transformation.

Foster America’s fellows will focus on a previously-identified problem that affects children in foster care, leveraging their prior professional experience, skills, and outside-the-box thinking to achieve results against a defined set of metrics.  Each fellow works on a project, leading and innovating to: 1) prevent abuse and neglect, keeping more children safely out of foster care; 2) see that children who do enter foster care can live with loving, stable foster families rather than in group settings; 3) ensure that every child in foster care has quality, consistent support from a highly-capable caseworker; and 4) that children have health, mental health, safety, and educational success as the multiple systems in their life work together for their well-being.

Long term, the organization’s goal is to develop and scale new solutions to the biggest challenges facing the child welfare system and build a cadre of talented leaders who will continue to work on improving our country’s child welfare system.

At a Glance
Founded: 2014
Founder & CEO: Sherry Lachman
Social Justice
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast
Foster America
San Francisco, CA
Our nation's most vulnerable children deserve more
Sherry Lachman of Foster America
Meet Sherry Lachman

Founder and CEO Sherry Lachman has devoted her career to improving government systems to help disadvantaged children and families. She previously served as a domestic policy advisor to Vice President Biden, a senior policy advisor at the Department of Education, a senior education counsel to Senator Al Franken, and an attorney at the Juvenile Law Center. Sherry holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in philosophy from the University of Cambridge, a doctor of law from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Sherry’s commitment to child welfare stems from her experience in foster care as a child.

IMPACT

Foster America fellows have made major progress on the ground. For example, one fellow used his marketing and design skills to help Rhode Island increase by 25 percent the number of foster families they recruited and licensed and thereby decrease by 30 percent the number of foster children they placed in jail-like institutions. Another fellow is using his software engineering skills to help Washington State integrate data across its early childhood and child welfare agencies to identify and match vulnerable families earlier with services that prevent child abuse and neglect.

By 2022, FA aims to scale the innovations their fellows and alumni create and develop at least 100 new leaders for the child welfare field from their fellowship pipeline. Together, they will represent enough of a critical mass in a relatively small sector, to begin shifting our country’s broken approach to child welfare, which is at the root of so many of society’s biggest challenges.

  • The foster care system failed Ma’Khia Bryant & her family in multiple ways. We must continue to push for policies t… https://t.co/CCzyp8glbr
  • Beginning this Thursday, the @instituteforfam is hosting a 2-part webinar series on how we can better support famil… https://t.co/Y4MeqDm6Iq
  • It's #NationalFosterCareMonth, and there are plenty of opportunities to join the conversation about changing the… https://t.co/YavU0CbOa1
  • Our latest group of innovative leaders started with their agencies this week! Learn about our newest fellows, their… https://t.co/ZeqR5cWsPW
  • RT @emerginista: On reimagining #childwelfare as child wellbeing: "Rather than uncomfortably confronting the root causes of family instabil…
  • May is #NationalFosterCareMonth. At Foster America, we know the system must be changed. Follow us this month as we… https://t.co/Rd3KteEONI
  • Tonight, President Biden will outline the details of the American Families Plan, which includes extending monthly p… https://t.co/QuoHzlqmsF
  • RT @JuvLaw1975: "As the story emerges, three facts are confirmed: Ma’Khia was 16 years old. She was Black. She was living in foster care. T…
  • .@HouseFloor & @SenateFloor, we must increase funding to #CAPTA Title II #CBCAP now. Local prevention programs are… https://t.co/3a8w0d23aN
  • Today is Digital Advocacy Day for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Join us in urging Congress to act to approve increa… https://t.co/Pr7Y2NNQjA
  • Congrats, Cohort 4! Over 18 months and through a global pandemic, these 10 fellows pushed to create a better, more… https://t.co/cW8GonAS4M
  • The researchers @Chapin_Hall have created a step-by-step toolkit to help anyone whose jurisdiction is planning impl… https://t.co/4L3cP9VZ1m
  • What would it look like to not just dismantle oppressive systems, but rebuild restorative ones? That's the question… https://t.co/NZP2CcSMXK
  • RT @PCAAmerica: Today is the World Day for Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Abuse. Together, we can help prevent child sexual abuse…
  • Our partners in Santa Clara County are hiring 2 positions: a researcher to support the employment services dept & a… https://t.co/GVcjawjpEp
  • It's Child Abuse Prevention month. Prevention is at the heart of the work our fellows do every day. Read more about… https://t.co/7P6oj64TPY
  • April is Child Abuse Prevention month. When we work to create supportive communities, we create a better world for… https://t.co/mUFogM6BIR
  • Today is #TransDayOfVisibility. A 2019 study revealed trans kids face more abuse and harassment in foster care than… https://t.co/FANqKW3uRe
  • "Even agencies overseeing foster care are recognizing that separating children from their parents may be unnecessar… https://t.co/kSF3EyaWvk
  • RT @NinaShapiro: Most people think of abuse when they think about the child-welfare system. But the vast majority of cases allege neglect,…