The In Our Backyard Children’s Campaign is actively collaborating with individuals and organizations across the country to bring about a re-envisioning of foster care in America.
We are building a national movement to inspire a new era of engagement that benefits children who experience foster care in America. In Our Backyard is a campaign that honors the lives of children with no power and no voice. It is a campaign that builds foundations, connections, and futures. Join us as we embark upon a national re-envisioning of foster care.
An America where people of all ages unite and take responsibility for our children’s futures. An America that invests in the lives
of our most vulnerable citizens. An America that believes all lives have equal worth. An America where we embrace all of the children in our backyards to ensure that each one has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.
In Our Backyard Vision
In Our Backyard represents a vision – Invite people of all ages to become engaged resources to children who experience foster care. Create a trained national service corps to support that engagement. Give them an array of innovative year-round program models to get involved with. Surround our country’s vulnerable children with great role models and resources. Re-invent the way we care for the 800,000 children who have been placed in our nation’s public foster care system.
Every year as many as 25,000 young people experiencing foster care turn 18 and “age out” of the public foster care system in this country without any enduring family relationships or community connections. Suddenly, after a childhood spent in a system that has made every important life decision for them, they are on their own with no one to count on.
There is a disconnect between children experiencing foster care and the majority of Americans. Why?
Currently most Americans think that there are only two ways they can support a child in the public foster care system:
1. Become a foster parent
2. Adopt a child from the foster care system.
This is too much to ask of most people. The outcome: hundreds of thousands of potential people resources walk away from the children who need them the most. The end result: 25,000 young people who are at risk for homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, early parenthood, and lives of poverty….. lives of poverty “age out” annually unprepared to live outside of the foster care system. Americans continue to support them with their tax dollars rather than celebrating their transition into a productive healthy young adulthood. The In Our Backyard solution: Surround each child in foster care with family and community members who are invested in their life-long success and well-being. Create a broader pool of potential family and community connections through new programs that invite volunteers in to form healthy relationships with kids on the front end of their foster care experiences rather than waiting until they turn 18.
The In Our Backyard Solution
Create a compelling Menu of Engagement Options to better serve our country’s most vulnerable children – exciting new programs that invite people of all ages to participate, connect, care, and take an active role in our country’s re-envisioning foster care process. Programs that In Our Backyard’s visionary leader, Judy Cockerton, has already begun: Treehouse Communities, the Big Red Barn Animal Therapy Program, Treehouse Arts & Learning Project, Sibling Connections, Community and School Garden Programs.
Cockerton has more program designs in the works. Her idea is to gather a stellar multi-disciplinary team of social venture capitalists and out of the box thinkers together to complete the Menu and then launch a multi-generational trained service corps to assist in its implementation nationwide.
In Our Backyard proposes a transformation of the way Americans support children who experience the foster care system as well as an expansion of service opportunities for people of all ages and from every socioeconomic group. The IOB campaign will help instill a culture of engagement with children experiencing foster care and provide opportunities for Americans to serve our most vulnerable children throughout their lifetimes.
In Our Backyard Strategies for Re-Envisioning Foster Care
Key Strategies for the campaign include:
• Launching and sustaining new replicable program models.
• Expanding menu of engagement and service opportunities.
• Engaging students of all ages – elementary thru college.
• Partnering with colleges and universities.
• Offering In Our Backyard on-line courses.
• Cultivating non-traditional public-private partnerships.
• Educating Americans about the everyday realities children who experience foster care face.
• Inspiring Americans to re-think and re-design our approach.
• Encouraging Americans to think out of the foster care box.
• Providing America’s elders with opportunities to serve.
• Funding innovative programs and practices.
• Replicating promising programs and practices.
• Measuring outcomes of expanded service delivery and citizen service opportunities.
• Taking a collaborative multi-disciplinary approach in order to create lasting social change.
The campaign aims to make serving children who experience foster care a new norm. The stigma and disrespect that children in the public foster care system typically face will be replaced with responsive and humane programming as well as life long family and community connections.