FosterClub was founded as an equity proposition.

Our originating idea: young people need and deserve their own coalition to help them navigate the experience of being in foster care and to counter the oppressive nature of the child welfare system.

What is FosterJEDI?

When addressing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) for young people who experience foster care, we must begin by acknowledging oppression most young people and their families experience during their involvement in the child welfare system.

What we work to achieve through our FosterJEDI approach:


Young people from foster care...


...experience a more fair child welfare system ...


... with outcomes commensurate with their non-foster and lesser-marginalized peers ...


... through decisions and services which are delivered by individuals representative of their identities ...


... all while having a sense of belonging.

"When the child welfare system works well for young people representing the most marginalized identities, including BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ youth, it will result in a system that works better for ALL young people."

— Celeste Bodner, Founder & Executive Director​​​​​​​

Why it Matters

Racial disproportionality

Racial inequities, bias, disproportionality, and disparities exist throughout child welfare. Segregation in foster care by race is glaringly apparent and people of color are overrepresented in the system. Black chil­dren rep­re­sent­ed 14% of the total child pop­u­la­tion but 22% of all kids in fos­ter care (1). Native American children are 2x more likely to be investigated, 2x more likely to have
allegations of abuse substantiated, and 4x more likely to be placed in foster care than White children (2).

LGBTQ2s+ Inclusion

Sexual minority youth (ex. lesbian, gay, bisexual, and same-sex attracted) youth are almost two and a half times as likely as heterosexual youth to experience foster care placement and are largely overrepresented in child welfare services and out-of-home placement (3). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, and other (LGBTQ+) youth continue to be poorly served, with many queer youth reporting that they fear being unable to share their identities once placed in the system for fear that the system won’t support or accept them.

Family Privilege

Being a young person with a stable family provides certain unearned advantages. Starting from the point that a child is removed from their family and taken into foster care, the child welfare system sends a message to a child that they lack family privilege and their parent is no longer in charge of what happens to them. Further, a parent is generally a child's strongest ally and advocate when it comes to navigating other systems (education, mental health, juvenile justice). Young people in foster care experience disproportionately poor outcomes compared to their familied peers in terms of outcomes in these other systems.

The voices of young people must be centered in ways that are safe, authentic, meaningful, and of mutual benefit to address the concerns affecting their own lives and those of their peers.

While child welfare systems must take responsibility for achieving racial equity in child welfare, we believe the wisdom and vision of vulnerable and marginalized communities must drive both identification of what changes are needed and how to achieve those changes. 

FosterJEDI in Action @FosterClub

Our team embraces the idea of doing our own work (internally) so that we are better prepared to carry out the work (externally, through the programs and activities we implement). Because of this, FosterJEDI shows up throughout the organization in a very integral way. However, we know FosterJEDI is a continuum, and requires consistent exploration, learning, discussion, and progressive decision-making. 

A few examples of how FosterJEDI shows up internally at FosterClub:

Human Resources

We ensure our internal  policies and practices carefully consider how we can be intentional in our recruitment and support of people with lived experience on staff.  This includes providing transparency and concrete guidance to people who transition from a LEx Leader role into a staff position about how the shift in roles might impact them.  

Flexible Banking

We know that people with Lived Experience (LEx) are unbanked at a higher rate than peers do to child welfare involvement and a lack of family privilege. FosterClub has designed a suite of banking tools and internal policies that allows us to meet people where they are.

Culture Commitments 

Every couple of years, we conduct an assessment to better understand the internal culture of the organization. In this dialogue, staff and leadership work through challenges together. The result is a Cultural Commitment document that helps to guide our internal FosterJEDI work.

A few examples of how FosterJEDI shows up externally at FosterClub:

Compensation Guidelines 

FosterClub has led the effort to ensure young people who bring their lived experience to the work are fairly compensated, both in monetary terms and other benefit. Our Compensation Guide was written for our internal use, but is now shared widely as a resource for partners. 

Honesty About Power

When engaging young people, it is critical to be honest, transparent, and proactively communicative about how decisions are made and who holds power over what. Too often, young people are told that a project is youth-led, only to learn that isn't really the case (for example, when it comes to budgetary or governance decisions). 

FosterJEDI Training for Young People

Just because a young person identifies with a marginalized population doesn't mean they've had the opporunity or safe space to explore how their identity may have impacted their experience in foster care. Our training allows youth to consider their own story as it relates to FosterJEDI in a peer-supported space.

The voices of young people must be centered in ways that are safe, authentic, meaningful, and of mutual benefit to address the concerns affecting their own lives and those of their peers.

We embrace a call-in culture

We are big fans of Loretta J Ross... check out this podcast interview with Ms. Ross (from Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris), or read this New York Times article. If you have questions about our FosterJEDI approach or any of the content mentioned here, we welcome a conversation.