A Families-First Approach to Foster Care

By David Bornstein

Sonja Luecke

Family Intervention Specialist Leontyne Scott, second from right, works with a young man and his family. Youth Villages counselors do much of their work in the kitchens and living rooms of families they assist.

It’s difficult to change systems even when they are widely acknowledged to be broken. That’s the situation facing the nation’s foster care system. According to the government’s most recent estimate, there were roughly 424,000 young people in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2009. Each year, about 30,000 of them turn 18 (or 21 in some states) and “age out” of foster care. What happens to them?
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