This year kicked off with the release of FTN’s Courageous Conversations study – conducted in partnership with the UCLA Pritzker Center – which gained the perspectives of youth and caregivers to unearth how to improve the experiences of Black youth in foster care.

What we learned:

  • Participants highlighted hair and skin care as directly connected to the success or disruption of the caregiving experience.
  • Caregivers expressed concern about a lack of preparedness or support with resources and cultural understanding to take care of the physical and emotional needs of Black youth.
  • Non-Black caregivers expressed concern about connecting with the culture and identity of Black youth and how to keep Black youth in their care related to their racial identities – a failing equally noted among Black youth.


In response, FTN Equity Workgroup launched Courageous Actions to improve the experiences of Black youth in the foster care system.

What we’re doing about it:
  • The FTN backbone team created a narrative change and training video in English and Spanish to ignite a paradigm shift regarding Black hair and skin care. This, and other resources, can be found here.
  • CA Alliance of Caregivers (CAC) partnered with the FTN backbone team to enhance the tools and resources available on their website and expand the awareness and use of their virtual hair support. Visit the CAC website
  • Workgroup partners, DCFS Public Affairs, and the backbone team collaborated to share out messaging and resources.
  • A Cultural Brokers program is being created to facilitate conversations about race and culture among staff, caregivers, and youth, and to organize in-person options for hair coaching.
  • A pilot to test coaching of DCFS staff around cultural support is in development.
  • DCFS Training division, Out-of-home Care division, UCLA and FKCE is partnering to develop cultural training for all staff and caregivers across the DCFS system.



From within DCFS, Karen Richardson, a DCFS Deputy Director and a parent, penned a note to the DCFS network highlighting the need to focus on Cultural comprehension from her own experience and from that of her daughter.


A few weeks later, former foster youth, recent MSW graduate, and our own member of the FTN Backbone team, Alicia Smith recently wrote to the DCFS network, calling on them to strengthen their partnerships and support of making these courageous actions.


Their sentiments, along with many other Black youth in and out of care, exemplifies how supporting physical care & cultural identity is a crucial and often overlooked part of the well-being pillar of the child welfare system’s mission that needs to be addressed.

Karen Richardson Director's Message February 2023
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Alicia Smith Guest-Message-FTN-061223 -Courageous Conversations
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