In An Instant, Mary Went From Empty Nester To Foster Parent Of Four

Mary was almost 60 and planning her retirement when she showed up at her sister’s house to find DCYF workers removing her great nieces and nephew from the home. She offered to take the kids. And in that instant, her life changed. Read more...



“It’s Easy To Be The Aunt”: Learning To Parent Four Foster Kids

When Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families decides to remove kids from their home, caseworkers immediately start looking for family members or family friends who might take the kids. They’re called “kinship foster parents,” and they often have little or no time to prepare. As of last spring, two thirds of all kids in a foster home in Rhode Island were living with a kinship foster family.

Our series continues with a look at how Mary and her four foster kids are learning to get through each day. Read more...



Two Years After Being Put In Foster Care, Forgiveness Is Still Out Of Reach

Kids in foster care are often coping with the aftermath of abuse or neglect, along with the added trauma of being removed from their home. They’re grappling with this past, while living in the shadow of an uncertain future.

For Mary and her four foster kids, many parts of their life together are getting easier with time. But the kids are still learning to make sense of the circumstances that brought this foster family together. Read more...




Reporter Debrief: Foster Families Deal With A Backdrop Of Uncertainty At DCYF

We launched this series, Living In Limbo, against a backdrop of ongoing turmoil at the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families. Reporter Sofia Rudin spoke with host Dave Fallon about the context for these stories. Read more...




For Foster Parents, Getting Care For A Child With Special Needs Presents Extra Challenges

Earlier this year, Rhode Island’s foster care system was in the spotlight because of the death of a 9-year-old child in state care. A searing report on the death from the Child Advocate blamed the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families for failing to step in. It also revealed the extent to which the well-being of foster children depends on the capacity of their foster parents. This is especially true for foster kids with serious medical conditions.

As part of our series Living In Limbo, we meet one family working to get the care their youngest foster child needs. Read more...

Waiting To Adopt Two Foster Kids, Ally’s “Not Planning Any Parties”

Many foster kids in Rhode Island are eventually reunited with their birth parents. But for some, that isn’t possible. For these kids, adoption is one way to leave foster care -- and the uncertainty that comes with it -- behind. Ally and Matt have been foster parents to Clara and her younger brother James for more than three years. We continue their family’s story as they prepare for adoption. Read more...




R.I. Child Advocate: “DCYF Is Desperate For More Workers”

Understaffing, leadership turnover, and the death of a child in state care earlier this year -- these are just a few of the issues plaguing Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The person responsible for holding the department accountable is Jennifer Griffith, the state’s Child Advocate. Her team last year brought to light dangerous conditions at group homes run by the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborate, including lack of supervision, inadequate mental health care, and sex trafficking by a group home employee. Read more...




Three Former Foster Youth Reflect On How They Forged Their Own Paths

In Rhode Island every year, dozens of young people age out of the foster care system without a permanent connection to a family. Last year, the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families began allowing 18-year-olds to voluntarily remain in state care until they’re 21. But the need for support services as these young people become independent remains.

Three young people who aged out of state care over the last decade share snapshots of their experiences. Read more...




For Youth Aging Out Of Foster Care, RI’s Voluntary Extension Of Care Program Aims To Ease Transition To Independence

Imagine you’re about to turn 18. You’ve been living in a group home, or with a foster family. But now, you’re faced with finding a place to live and supporting yourself for the first time. Youth in this position are at a high risk of becoming homeless or incarcerated. Often they struggle to find a job or stay in school. Last year, Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families began allowing youth to stay in state care until they’re 21. Currently, there are about 80 young adults enrolled in the Voluntary Extension of Care program. Mike Burk runs this program, and he joined reporter Sofia Rudin to talk about how the first year has gone. Read more...




"This Is A Very New Chapter Of My Life": Amelia Prepares To Leave Her Last Foster Home

Amelia entered foster care when she was just starting high school. She lived in a group home, and moved through several foster homes. But like many teenagers in Rhode Island’s child welfare system, none of these placements became permanent. At 19, she’s now faced with living on her own for the first time. Read more...



Leaving Foster Care, Amelia’s First Nights Living On Her Own Are "A Real Struggle"

About a hundred young people age out of foster care in Rhode Island every year. They’re on their own, without the family support that many young adults depend on. In this audio diary, she reflects on her first days in her own apartment. Read more...



Amelia Is Embracing Life On Her Own, As She Ages Out Of Foster Care

Youth aging out of foster care enter adulthood without the family support that many young adults rely on. Over the past two days we’ve introduced you to Amelia, as she moved out of her last foster home and into her own apartment. It hasn’t been easy for her. But in this audio diary, she shares how she is learning to get through each day. Read more...