We are working to drastically change the systemic challenges that youth who are or have been involved with the foster care system experience.

How It Started

Creating Actionable and Real Solutions (CARES) is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). CSSP is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society in which all children and families thrive. Learn more about CSSP here.

Girl sitting on skateboard.

Our Approach

On any given day in the United States, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system—and more than 82,000 are youth older than 14. These young people, specifically transition-age youth of color, are more likely to experience disparate treatment and outcomes.  It is our belief that, with the right combination of innovation, authentic engagement of youth, and community collaboration, we can start to change that.

Learn more about our approach to the work here.

Continue scrolling for more detail on our specific areas of work.

Cultivate Youth Power

CARES Youth Ambassadors, selected in Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; and Atlanta, GA (each of the cities in which we are conducting our work), function as advisors for this work. By working directly with them, we ensure that our work is both authentically youth-serving AND empowering. CARES Ambassadors are deeply involved in all steps of this work, and their advice, guidance, and experiences are centered in all parts of the co-design process. Their lived experience is the most important resource we have to authentically proceed in this work.

Identify Structural Challenges

Using an adaptation of CSSP’s Institutional Analysis methodology, CARES conducted a strategic analysis designed to understand how communities are able to affirm, include, and support youth transitioning out of foster care. Investigative teams applied qualitative tools and analysis to understand how communities are organized to support youth aging out of the child welfare system. As part of the analysis, teams also examined current concepts, theories, policies, initiatives, and accountability mechanisms that serve to create the current conditions youth are experiencing and provide the opportunities for improvement.

Read CARES: Understanding How Transition Age Youth Experience their Communities here.

Advance Anti-Racist Policies

Working directly with Ambassadors, we co-designed a national anti-racist and intersectional policy agenda: A Policy Agenda for a Nation that CARES for Young Adults. This agenda centers youth experiences and prioritizes the needs of youth currently in and previously involved with the child welfare system. Reflecting the goals and priorities of the Ambassadors, the agenda includes policies beyond child welfare as youth are impacted by multiple systems.

Read A Policy Agenda for a Nation that CARES for Young Adults here.

Disrupt Harmful Narratives

With help and guidance from the Ambassadors, we have co-designed a national narrative change campaign designed to address and change the existing negative narrative—or damage imagery—about youth who are or who have been involved in the foster care system. Visit our blog and follow us on Instagram to see the latest.

#CARES4Power

Follow us on Instagram to learn more about our work, the CARES Ambassadors, and the policies we are building to advance change for all transition age youth.

Happy Friday! Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Cultural practices and values promote family well-being and improve child welfare outcomes. Strong ties with cultural, racial, and ethnic identities can build resilience and act as a buffer against the effects of trauma. 

This series aims to expand the reach and use of many terms that appear in our work, lives, and communities.
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#classisinsession #KeyEquityTerms #CARES #CARESAmbassadors #Equity #Culture #ChildWelfare
Happy Thursday! Today's Key Equity Terms are ✨Equity vs. Equality✨. 

People often use the words "equity" and "equality" to mean the same thing when discussing race and social justice. While both terms are about "fairness," they are different, and choosing one over the other can lead to very different results. 

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Equal­i­ty assumes that every­body is oper­at­ing at the same start­ing point and will face the same cir­cum­stances and chal­lenges. Equi­ty rec­og­nizes the short­com­ings of this “one-size-fits-all” approach and under­stands that dif­fer­ent lev­els of sup­port must be pro­vid­ed to achieve fair­ness in outcomes.” 

This series aims to expand the reach and use of many terms that appear in our work, lives, and communities. 

#classisinsession #KeyEquityTerms #CARES #CARESAmbassadors #Equity #Equality #Equityvsequality #equityversusequality
Happy Friday! We're back with our "Key Equity Term" Series; today's Key Equity Term is ✨Discrimination✨. This series aims to expand the reach and use of many terms that appear in our work, lives, and communities. 

Discrimination fact: According to the American Bar Association, "Racial discrimination in U.S. child welfare is a human rights issue. On August 30, 2022, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a group of international experts charged with monitoring state compliance with human rights obligations on racial discrimination, expressed concern at the 'disproportionate number of children of racial and ethnic minorities removed from their families and placed in foster care' in the U.S. Stay tuned for new terms in the coming weeks, and if you have additions — let us know!
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#Discrimination #classisinsession #KeyEquityTerms #CARES #CARESAmbassadors #KeyTerms #Wordoftheday #WOTD
Check out CARES #NewYork Ambassador Kayonda talking about what policy issue she feels has been neglected and should be an immediate concern. See what the CARES Policy Agenda is about by visiting CARES4Power.org or the LinkTree in our bio. This policy agenda reimagines how policy supports young people.
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 #CARES #fostercare #CARESNationalPolicyAgenda #EconomicSecurity #YoungAdults #nationalfostercareawarenessmonth #nationalfostercaremonth #Mayisfostercareawarenessmonth #MayFosterCareAwarenessMonth #FosterCareAwarenessMonth
Check out CARES #Atlanta Ambassador Aisha speaking about what she envisions for the future of the country. See what the CARES Policy Agenda is all about by visiting CARES4Power.org or the LinkTree in our bio. We, as a society, owe young adults the support they need to find their way and flourish. 
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#CARES #fostercare #CARESNationalPolicyAgenda #EconomicSecurity #YoungAdults
#Mayisfostercareawarenessmonth #MayFosterCareAwarenessMonth #FosterCareAwarenessMonth
#nationalfostercareawarenessmonth #nationalfostercaremonth