Foster care has a bad reputation. You see it in melodramatic movies, breathless descriptions of abuse on the nightly news, and opinion pieces denouncing broken systems. And the foster care system, in New York City and all over the country, is flawed. That’s why Forestdale exists— not to perpetuate the system or plug its holes, but to transform it by marrying a traditional approach to foster care with complementary, innovative programs.
For the over 700 children we serve each year, foster care is a life preserver. It’s used in time of crisis, and as such is necessary and life-saving, but it’s not meant to be permanent. Our goal is to reunite families. If that’s impossible, then adoption is the next option. Around thirty percent of our children are adopted by other family members or their foster parents.
This isn’t always possible, of course. Life is imperfect, the system’s imperfect, and we’re imperfect. But for those of our children who have to stay in foster care longer, Forestdale keeps track of them every day, staying in contact with their birth parents, foster parents, teachers, counselors, and community leaders. Our dedicated staff watches their development closely, advocating for their access to quality schools, enrichment activities, and, eventually, colleges.
Through understanding how to relate to their own bodies, the world around them, and their families, Forestdale children can understand how to break the cycle of dependence and poverty, and forge for themselves an independent life.