In January of 2017 there will be a formal launch for Foster Care Alum Minnesota (FAM). FAM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Connections to Independence (C2i) to serve as the newly founded nonprofit group’s fiscal sponsor, and named Hank Marotske BSW/MBA as their part time executive director to execute a two year $100k planning grant awarded by the Graves Family Foundation and the Sauer Children’s Renew Foundation as of July 2016. Currently the entire board and executive director are all alumni of the Minnesota foster care system.
The goal of FAM is to connect and engage adults who have shared experiences in the foster care system. Members could have experienced short term or long term placements, been reunified, kinship care, adopted or aged-out of care and will be recruited from all age groups. The network will provide formal support, professional and leadership development, mentoring and engage in policy and advocacy initiatives for youth currently in care.
The planning grant encompasses initial recruitment, organizational infrastructure, strategic and sustainability planning, and incorporation activities over a two year period which started in July of 2016. Unofficially the founding board has been working on this since project since mid-2015.
FAM plans to bring alumni of care together through hosting holiday dinners, providing housing and transportation resources, celebrate milestone events such as graduations and birthdays, career and professional resources, and other informal gatherings. As the network grows mentoring services for youth and public policy and advocacy initiatives will be included in the strategic initiatives.
There are approximately 5,000 youth in foster care at any given time in Minnesota, about 500 are emancipated and almost 2,000 16-20 years old exit foster care every year. Research has demonstrated that youth who have left foster care leave with limited independent living skills, often lack permanent connections, are more likely than those in the general population to not finish high school, experience homelessness, be unemployed, and be dependent on public welfare assistance. FAM believes by building a network the organization can provide hope, stability, positive adult role modeling, and a voice for those currently in care and reduce disparities as adults.
The mission of Foster Alumni Minnesota is to Connect, Support and Inspire alumni of care through a formal social and professional network that provides connections for adults who experienced out of home care as youth through peer to peer networking, education, employment, advocacy, policy and leadership development.
Vision of FAM is all alumni of foster care, adoption, and congregate care are well-supported and well-connected through a peer to peer social scaffolding throughout all phases of life and help decrease disparities as adults.
Hank Marotske BSW/MBA
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