Most older children in foster care “age out” of the system without being adopted – a transition that leads to alarming rates of unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration. So DCFYI, working annually with 35-40 foster youth ages 12-21, makes sure they don’t have to face the world alone. Youth participants and adult volunteers come together in comfortable environments – over shared meals, in bowling alleys, at softball games. With DCFYI’s support, teens learn to trust, and adults see their stereotypes about foster youth melt away. Naturally, relationships develop: one-on-one mentorships, “host families” who welcome youth for regular weekend visits, and official adoptions. Since 2010, no participant has left foster care without a loving adult in his or her life, and 25 youth have been adopted. What does family mean to these kids? Asked on the day of his adoption, one participant responded: “Everything.”
COVID-19 Update: Running totally counter to their ethos, group programming moved online during this difficult time. More recently, small, socially-distanced, in-person events have begun and at the same time teens and adults continue to engage virtually for advice, guidance, and a sense of belonging.
Headquarters: DC-Ward 6
Where They Operate: DC-Citywide
Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24)
Ethnic Groups Served: African American
- Number of adults who have participated in program activities and gotten to know teens in foster care:
- Percentage of active teens who are matched with a mentor:
- Number of teens with finalized adoptions this year:
- Number of teens moved in with adoptive parents this year (adoption not yet finalized):
Awards & Recognition
"Angel in Adoption," Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, November 2019
recognized as a "Hometown Hero" by wgts91.9, August 2019
D.C. United "Community Star," August 2017
Fair Chance partner agency, selected spring 2014
- Making up for birthday parties that were never had, group gives older foster kids a chance to celebrate
Sun Jun 30 2019, The Washington Post
Theresa Vargas on our annual teen birthday party: why the party and DCFYI community (& having your name on a birthday cake) matter to teens.
- The difference one adult can make for foster children in D.C.
Fri Dec 21 2018, The Washington Post
A DCFYI mentor describes her mentee's struggles both in foster care and since "aging out" of care and gaining a footing as an adult.
- Connecting Teens, Creating Families, Changing Lives
Mon Nov 7 2016, Bittersweet Monthly
Stories of two DCFYIers illustrate the challenges faced by youth aging out of foster care and the impact of a caring adult in their lives.
- DCFYI Mentors Children Waiting for Adoption
Wed Nov 18 2015, NBC4
Wednesday's Child piece on what DCFYI and the DCFYI community mean to the teens we serve. As Tanika says, "DCFYI is my family."
- Family & Youth Initiative Honors Barbara Harrison
Thu Oct 8 2015, NBC4
- $3 million or higher
- $1 million to $3 million
- $500k to $1 million
- The current budget for Family & Youth Initiative is: Less than $500k
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