The idea for Foster Care Alumni of America goes back to 1999 when Casey Family Programs began extensive interviews with more than 1,800 alumni of the foster care system from across the country for a research project called the National Alumni Study. As researchers talked with alumni, they heard over and over, “I want to do something to improve foster care. How can I get involved?”
Leaders from this alumni community began to meet one another and work together. From our first meetings, we found incredible strength in each other—a feeling of belonging and kinship that so many of us had grown up without ever knowing. We discovered that we share a culture—the culture of foster care—that gives us an understanding of each other across the ages, across geography, and across ethnicities. Our shared culture and experiences form the basis for a community of alumni with a common voice.
We also recognized that we brought passion, insight, and expertise that could only be gained by having lived in foster care. We found that alumni were working on behalf of people in and from foster care in various ways: Many were foster parents, kinship caregivers, and adoptive parents. Many were social workers, researchers, legal professionals, and advocates. Alumni were participating in foster care program development, legislative advocacy, training for care providers and professionals and speaking publicly about their experiences.
Soon alumni leaders proposed establishing an independent, non-profit, alumni-led organization, and in 2004 Casey Family Programs made a significant investment in the alumni movement by generously supporting the creation of Foster Care Alumni of America. FCAA has always been volunteer driven and alumni led. The majority of our board members and chapter leaders are alumni. In our first ten years, we have established chapters around the country and built our membership to harness the power of alumni and our allies to make a real difference for people in and from foster care.