The Not-So-Carefree Days of Summer

As restrictions relax nationwide and people begin to travel and to reunite with loved ones in person for the first time in a very long time, I’ve heard the word “carefree” to describe the coming days of summer.

But for many of the thousands of children, youth, and young adults in out-of-home placements in Massachusetts, this summer will be anything but carefree. We may never know the extent of the disruption to their care caused by the pandemic, but we do know, as we so pointedly shared in our recent groundbreaking report Failing Our Kids: Measures of the Broken Child Welfare System in Massachusetts, that the outcomes in our state are so poor, these young people would do better to live in almost any other state. For our children in the child-welfare system, summer may bring their first in-person visits with social workers in more than a year. Summer will bring reminders of so much that has
been lost. 

And so we persist at Friends of Children, tirelessly, in Fostering Change—the name of this newsletter, and the purpose of our work. 

Later this summer, too many young people in foster care will also face an annual harsh reminder that they are different, and that reminder will come at back-to-school time, as their peers arrive for a new year with new backpacks, clothing, and gear–and they do not. For children in foster care, leaving their family of origin is inherently traumatizing—and the challenges of fitting in at a new school often add to that distress. Having basic gear like backpacks, school supplies, shoes, and clothing goes a long way toward helping children in foster care feel like they belong. The comprehensive and important Foster Dignity program here at Friends of Children addresses precisely this need. 

You’ll learn more about our Foster Dignity program–and about how you can get concretely involved in this issue of Fostering Change. You will continue to learn more about Sergio, a young adult in our FOCUS program. And you’ll stay informed about the momentum we’re gaining with policymakers since the release of Failing Our Kids. You’ll also read about the outpouring of support for Kathie’s Fund, and about how a simple donation from Angel Flight NE has spread throughout our community.

Carefree. Far from being a lighthearted descriptor of summer days, this word embodies our fondest wish for our young people in foster care. Carefree. Thanks to your support of Friends of Children, each day, no matter the season, we edge closer to realizing that dream.


Jane Lyons
Executive Director