Podcast Connects Foster Youth to Listeners and Authentic Opportunities to Drive Change

Posted October 4, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Two women sit at a table in a modern office space. They are laughing and wearing matching black t-shirts.

Look­ing for a real, infor­ma­tive and inspir­ing pod­cast to add to your playlist? Check out Fos­ter­Strong, a series cre­at­ed and run by young adults who spent time in fos­ter care.

Now in its sec­ond year, the pod­cast empow­ers cur­rent and for­mer fos­ter youth to share their sto­ries of trau­ma to tri­umph as a means of reclaim­ing their nar­ra­tives. Along the way, the episodes also are help­ing to com­bat harm­ful stereo­types, edu­cate audi­ences, spot­light the next gen­er­a­tion of fos­ter care lead­ers and give voice to count­less oth­er kids and fam­i­lies who are nav­i­gat­ing through fos­ter care. 

Sea­son two of the series focus­es on resilience and fea­tures guests and top­ics such as:

  • Bran­don Phillips, a come­di­an and actor, dis­cussing his jour­ney from fos­ter care to Hol­ly­wood and the val­ue of pos­i­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion of fos­ter care experiences.
  • Ixchel Mar­tinez, a licensed social work­er and alum­na of care, shar­ing her sto­ry on hur­dling adver­si­ty and empha­sizes the impor­tance of pass­ing the mic to youth in fos­ter care.
  • Sean Anders, a direc­tor and writer, talk­ing resilien­cy and high­light­ing fos­ter fam­i­lies in film.
  • La Tika Jef­frey, an alum­na of fos­ter care, speak­ing of her jour­ney as a 21-year-old adoptee and her work today as an advo­cate and men­tor to kids in care.

In a bid to reach more lis­ten­ers this sea­son, Fos­ter­Strong has teamed up with the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion’s grantee Insti­tute for Fam­i­ly, which pro­motes the pod­cast on its web­site. The orga­ni­za­tion is devot­ed to sup­port­ing strong fam­i­lies and — just like Fos­ter­Strong — believes in the pow­er of sto­ry­telling to real­ize its goals.

Insti­tute for Fam­i­ly and Fos­ter­Strong also are aligned in oth­er key ways. Both orga­ni­za­tions believe that young peo­ple with fos­ter care expe­ri­ence have been his­tor­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized, and tok­enized for their exper­tise and ideas. They’re sim­i­lar­ly com­mit­ted to mod­el­ing how to val­ue peo­ple with first­hand expe­ri­ence while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly chal­leng­ing the stig­mas, stereo­types, and neg­a­tive lan­guage com­mon­ly asso­ci­at­ed with fos­ter care.

The alliance is a tan­gi­ble exam­ple of how orga­ni­za­tions can lis­ten, learn and play a cru­cial role in shift­ing the pow­er to those of us who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care first­hand,” says Keri Rich­mond, exec­u­tive direc­tor of FosterStrong.

Matt Ander­son, direc­tor of Insti­tute for Fam­i­ly, cred­its the col­lab­o­ra­tion with chal­leng­ing his orga­ni­za­tion to move beyond sim­ply engag­ing youth and fam­i­lies as part­ners to instead fol­low­ing their lead. My hope is that this minor shift in our per­spec­tive will lead to a major shift in our prac­tice,” he says.

Lis­ten to FosterStrong

Dis­cov­er Cas­ey­Cast, the Casey Foun­da­tion’s podcast 

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