• 12.16.2021

    Redefining Normal: A New Approach to Supporting Foster Youth 

    Children in foster care are in crisis. RedMane’s Laura Polk facilitated a discussion with two former foster youth who aged out of the system. They shared strategies to address the situation.

    Session Description

    The 400,000 children in foster care today are in crisis. Only 56% of foster youth graduate high school, with less than 3% graduating college. Almost 80% of inmates incarcerated in our prisons have spent time in foster care. More than 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year without permanent families. Of these, more than 40% will experience homelessness within 18 months of leaving care.

    To help social workers address this crisis, RedMane’s Laura Polk facilitated a discussion with Alexis Lenderman-Black and Justin Black. These two former foster youth aged out of the system and became successful professionals. Alexis and Justin shared strategies social workers can use to those in foster care overcome the odds and achieve healthy and productive lives.

    Key Takeaways

    • Your normal is the identity that has been shaped by your family, community, and society. Foster youth often inherit a culture of ideas that are a reflection of the trauma of their families and communities. This becomes their reality and the image they grow up having about themselves.
    • Foster youth are a vulnerable population. Most teenage youth who have nowhere to go usually enter a detention center. Not because they have done anything wrong, but because it is so hard to find people willing to take in teenage foster youth.
    • It takes faith for foster youth to a enter a home believing that it will be the “one.” Foster youth typically expect the home they are in will be temporary.
    • Foster families and front-line workers need to dive deep into the insecurities of a foster child and be mindful to not projecting anything on to the foster youth.
    • Since many youth expect people to give up on them, consistency is key when building relationships with those in care.
    • It’s important to set expectations that bring out the best in foster youth.
    • Front-line workers must collaborate with teachers, community leaders, and others who are engaging with the foster child and urge them to be a positive example for the youth.

    About Alexis Lenderman-Black

    Alexis Lenderman-Black has dual degrees in Entrepreneurship and Global & International Studies with minors in nonprofit leadership and political science. Black is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and keynote speaker. She co-published the award-winning, bestselling book Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love.

    Alexis spent several years in the foster care system before aging out and being adopted as an adult. She has served in several roles supporting current and former foster youth including as a National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) Reviewer. She hopes that through challenging others, accountability and inspiration, she can help to change the narrative of families and communities.

    About Justin Black

    Justin Black studied public relations and African studies. Black is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and keynote speaker. With his wife, he published the bestselling book Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love. The Redefining Normal book transformed into a company where Justin and his wife host workshops, presentations, keynote speeches, and produce products to continue the conversation surrounding trauma, healthy relationships, foster care, and mental health.

    Justin has also developed policy recommendations while working with the National Black Child Development Institute resulting in a publication titled The State of the Black Child Report Card: Washington State. He aspires to challenge and expand the ideologies of how to build prosperous communities through interdependence and entrepreneurship.”

    About RedMane

    RedMane Technology provides software solutions and systems integration services that address complex, real-world challenges. RedMane’s human services expertise includes child welfare, child support, eligibility, and case management.  RedMane is a problem-solving company. Technology is just one of its tools.