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foster care

Being a dad is not just about biology.

Juan Calvo and his husband, Darrow Brown, know that fatherhood isn't limited to a science. In 2007, after Calvo volunteered to care for drug-addicted infants in Baltimore, he knew he wanted to do more.

So, Calvo and Brown became foster dads. The two still remember the moment they met their first foster child.

"The worker came in, she chatted a bit, then left some formula and said, 'Here, here you go. Sign this paper,' " Calvo says. "And this little baby, he was so beautiful."

Courtesy of Dylan Rae Metcalfe

Growing up, Dylan Rae Metcalfe could do whatever she wanted.  

“My mom let me do all kinds of sideways shit,” she said. “Like, if I wanted to smoke pot or drink or smoke cigarettes or have sex or whatever, my mom allowed it ‘as long as it's happening in the house.’ That was awesome to me.”


car young driver transportation
Flickr Photo/State Farm (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fQcc5C

A bill signed by Governor Jay Inslee will reimburse caregivers or foster children for the costs associated with getting a driver's license.

It’s expensive to become a licensed driver in Washington state. There are permitting fees, driver's education classes, testing and insurance costs. 


Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would let children age 12 and older in foster care switch case workers. The bill would require the Oregon Department of Human Services to assign the child a new case worker within 15 days of the request.

When Noel Anaya was just a year old, he and his five brothers and sisters were placed in the California foster care system. He has spent nearly all of his life in that system and has just turned 21. In California, that's the age when people in foster care "age out" of the system and lose the benefits the system provides. That process becomes official at a final court hearing. Anaya, along with Youth Radio, got rare permission to record the proceeding, where he read a letter he wrote about his experience in the foster care system.

Emily Fox talks with journalist Susanna Ray about the impact of high turnover among social workers who work in Washington's foster care system. Ray wrote a series of stories about foster care for the nonprofit Investigate West.

Kim Malcolm talks with Connie Lambert-Eckel about why some Washington foster kids end up being taken in by families in other states. A recent New York Times investigation tells the story of a New York foster parent who's accused of sexually abusing three boys from Washington. Lambert-Eckel is director of field operations for Children's Administration at Washington's Department of Social and Health Services.

Where to send foster kids? For 72 hours, Skookum House

Aug 24, 2016
Skookum House provides 72 hours of shelter for foster kids in Bellingham, giving social workers more time to find them a home.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Eden Wallace

There was a kid they called Peanut at the Child Protective Services office in Bellingham.

“He spent a lot of time with social workers, just going around the office,” recalled Alex Fitzstrawn, a supervisor here. Peanut also slept on the couch in the office.


A bill that makes sweeping changes to Oregon's oversight of foster care providers takes effect next month. The reforms were proposed after numerous media reports of abuse and neglect at several foster care providers.

Oregon is falling short of many of its own goals when it comes to caring for children in its foster care system. That's according to a review released this week.

A driver’s license and proof of insurance are two basics before getting behind the wheel. But Washington state auditors couldn’t find those documents for four volunteer drivers who ferried foster youth to appointments.

The state of Oregon has agreed to pay out $15 million in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of nine children who were sexually abused while in foster care.

Larry and Mary-Jeanne Smith have been foster parents for 20 years. Mary-Jeanne Smith was also in the foster system as a child.
Courtesy of Mary-Jeanne Smith

Mary-Jeanne Smith was 13 when she ran away from home. She said she left to avoid an abusive environment.

“My parents had joined sort of a religious cult and there was a lot of physical, sexual and mental abuse,” she said.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown wants an independent review of the state's foster care system. It comes after the Willamette Week newspaper reported that the Oregon Department of Human Services ignored warning signs at a prominent foster care provider in Portland.

In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas. About 70 children from the border have been placed with foster families in Washington state.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Sara, 20, is a Mexican student in Des Moines, Washington, a half hour south of Seattle. She wears her hair in two braids, tucked under her black knit hat. White ear buds hang from her collar. She’s friendly, but far from talkative.

We meet in a small meeting room at Highline Community College, where she is taking a GED-prep class. She looks out the window as she recalls her first days in the U.S., at an immigration holding shelter in California. 

Kim Malcolm talks with Austin Jenkins of the Northwest News Network about how Washington state is trying to reduce the number of teens who run away from foster homes.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Some parents don’t know how to parent.

When their lack of parenting skills put the child in danger, that’s when the state comes knocking – to take their children away. Nearly 7,000 kids in Washington state were placed in foster care last year.

Washington is under court order to keep foster youth from running away. So the state now has a team of “locators”--social workers whose job it is to find runaways and bring them back.

Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services now has a team of social workers whose sole job is to find foster youth who run away.

From Foster Care To Freshman Year

Jan 6, 2015

By the time she aged out of foster care, Jasmine Uqdah had spent nearly half her life in the system. On a summer day in 2008, Uqdah grabbed her duffel bag and two small garbage bags, and she stuffed everything she owned inside.

It wasn't much — just some clothes and a few stuffed animals. She said her goodbyes to her foster family in Detroit and moved out. She was 18 years old.

The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers.

A judge in Bellingham Monday ordered the state of Washington to do more to locate foster children who run away.

Children with the biggest needs face the biggest gaps in services, according to a new report about children adopted from the state's foster care system.

The findings were released Monday by the Washington state auditor's office.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds sits down with Jim Theofelis, founder and executive director of the Mockingbird Society, and 21-year-old Deontae Cruz who participated in the original extended foster care pilot program.

They spoke about the importance of allowing young adults in foster care to remain in the system until age 21 — an issue state legislators will address this session.

Marcie Sillman talks to Slate contributor Kathryn Joyce about her investigative piece on Hana Williams, an adopted child from Ethiopia who died after suffering child abuse by her adopted parents, Larry and Carri Williams. One question still remains in the case: how she and her brother were subjected to so much abuse without any intervention.

Investigate West/Mike Kane

When Roel Williams was 18, he couldn’t wait to leave foster care.

“I went to a foster home in the Central District, which was run by a reverend,” he recalled. “He told me I had to fight one of the other foster children to stay in that placement. That’s when reality hit me.”

Teenage boy
Flickr photo/James Evans

Turning 18 marks a form of adulthood at least, bringing new independence and legal rights. For a foster child in Washington state, turning 18 can also mean the end of a stable home life. InvestigateWest reporter Claudia Rowe joins us with the story of one young woman’s experience “aging out” of foster care, and what state government might do to help.