In 2018, YMCA Childcare Resource Service (YMCA CRS) began administering the Foster Care Bridge Program in San Diego County to help caregivers of children in foster care, ages 0-5, find and pay for child care until their long-term subsidy payments begin. The program also provides trauma-informed care trainings for child care providers to best support foster youth. Partnership with San Diego County Child Welfare Services has supported a child-centered approach that increases well-being and positive outcomes for our community.

The circumstances that led to placing a child in foster care, such as child abuse/neglect, absence of one or both biological parents, and exposure to substance abuse, are considered adverse experiences that can have a traumatic effect on children and impact their development. However, exposure to adversity does not doom children to poor outcomes, and proper support — particularly the consistent presence of a warm, responsive caregiver — mitigates the impacts of trauma.

Families who care for youth in the foster care system take on an incredible responsibility, so they should be able to access the resources that make their home a safe and stable one. Yet anecdotal evidence from the field and YMCA CRS’ experience in the past year reveal that access to child care is a significant barrier for families seeking to care for a child in foster care.

The Foster Care Bridge program is like a three-legged stool that supports resource families at the moment when a child enters into their care. When resource families have access to resources and sufficient financial funds, they can properly support the child in their care and provide the stability that helps children in foster care heal and build resilience to future adversity. Quality child care is paramount to achieving that stability.

Read the brief below to learn more about the program components and impact on our community: