Fostering Meaningful Relationships With Former Foster Youth

by Aug 2, 2023

Do you have a heart for Former Foster Youth? Are you feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to start? You are not alone! We understand that this is a multi-faceted and complex feat, but we can learn, progress, and face challenges together. Here are some things that we’ve learned along the way – starting with the foundation of forming a relationship with a foster child or former foster youth. 

Understanding Foster Care and Former Foster Youth

A foster child is a minor who is presently in the foster care system and former foster youth are children who have aged out of the foster care system.

Lei Fuimano mentoring a resident.

There are many misconceptions and stereotypes about children in the foster care system. Chances are that you have encountered more children in your life who are or were part of the system than you may realize. Many people may assume that foster children are “damaged” or in some way different from the general population. But in reality, they are just like everyone else – only with a different story. Foster children are just like us,  only with a different background. Ultimately, if we approach them with respect, acceptance, and love to see them for who they are in Christ, and not label them based on their life experiences, we can help break down some of the barriers they may face.

We took the time to sit down with Lei Fuimano, our Foster Youth Home Director who has spent over 9 years working with Foster Youth. The conversation was enlightening; here is what we learned. 

Former foster youth residents enjoying a communal meal together.

Helpful Tips

Tip 1: Create a safe and healing space for their restoration. 

A personal testimony speaks of the milestones that brought them to this present day. You want to create an environment that allows the youth to feel comfortable. A safe and comfortable environment that empowers the individual(s) to verbalize their pains and their past will be far more effective than a forced effort. 

Tip 2: Listening is the most effective and impactful method

Education and experience can help bring expertise to the topic. But when we asked Lei how one can create a sense of comfort, inclusion, and optimal growth in a relationship with a former foster youth, she said, “These youth know how to interview, they know how to survive. They don’t need an expert on the topic. What they need is a person who is eager to listen, and who’s able to be present.”

Tip 3: “Remain consistent.” 

It’s tough for us to open up to someone we just met. These youth are no different. Former foster youth have also experienced a lack of stability and may be hesitant to open up to you. They may present themselves to be different from who they are. To your surprise, you may see a change in the person you started to foster a relationship with. You will see walls will begin to peel. Instead of getting frustrated, confused, or rattled, strive to remain consistent.

Tip 4: You will be the initiator. 

Former foster care youth have walked a lonely road for some time. This can behaviorally be deeply rooted, resulting in you finding yourself often being the one to keep developing the relationship. You may find yourself being the one to reach out, check in, and be the main communicator. Instead of getting frustrated or discouraged, embrace the role, and you may see the relationship shift as they grow to trust you and to see that they are part of a community, a friendship, and a family. 

Don’t lose faith

If you desire to form a relationship with a Former foster youth, do it! It may be hard at times, maybe tiring, and possibly something new and uncomfortable for you. But the result is worth fighting for. These youth desire love, respect, and a chance to show you who they are, not who they are labeled to be. They desire community, security, new opportunities, and the space to make memories with others. God has created us all to be a part of a  community, to be in a relationship with one another. And through your faith and commitment, you will make an impact on our beloved youth. 

Former foster youth walking up to the foster youth program.

Our Intention at Dream Center

At the Dream Center, our Transitional Housing Program for former foster youth, led by the Program Director, Lei Fuimano, has been serving these individuals for the past nine years. This program is available for youth who have transitioned out of the foster care system, who are either experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. These young adults, ages 18-24, are provided the resources for educational learning and job training, along with a supportive community and mentorship. If you are interested or know of a former foster youth who would benefit from this program, click here or email us at

We hope these tips are helpful for your journey of fostering these relationships. Most importantly, you are not alone and we are here cheering you on!  

Hosea 14:3 [ESV] “In you the orphan finds mercy.”

2301 Bellevue Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Office: (213) 273-7000
Donation Support: (213) 273-7100

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