My name is Jessica Lloyd-Rogers and I am pleased and honored to be the new Chair of CoSA. I was asked to step in to finish former Chair, Jim Hatch’s term when he stepped down. My executive team includes Amanda Cruce, President of the Florida Foster Adoptive Parent Association as Vice-Chair and Lara Bouse, President and Executive Director of Fostering Forward Michigan as my alternate Vice-Chair. Tammy Wells, President of the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association is our Secretary.
Locally, I serve as President, of the Oregon Foster Parent Association (OFPA), which will celebrate 24 years of existence in November. OFPA serves roughly 3200 foster parents and nearly 11,000 children and youth per year.
I came to these positions through lived experience. Here’s the short version – violent household, runaway at 14, several years of street-life, discovered by the state and placed in a series of ‘three hots and a cot’ foster homes, aged out with no supports, and joined the military. For years I told no one I had been in foster care because of the shame I felt. Decades later, wanting to give back, my husband and I became therapeutic foster parents for crisis respite care. In 16 months, we had 203 intakes, 149 children, ages 4-18, for 1-5 days. I like to say that I have a PhD in foster care.
One day, I watched a caseworker deliberately and strategically demean a 15-year-old girl in our care to her face. I realized that nothing had changed since I aged out some 40 years ago. First, I got angry and then I grew determined to change things. So, I joined the local foster care association (which I had to search hard to locate). I soon realized that I could have more impact at the state level (again I had to search diligently to find the association) and applied to be on the board. I am now in my 5 th year on the board and my second term as President.
I will likely do this work until my time is done. I’m passionate about changing the paradigm of foster care from the current broken system to one built on compassion, partnership, and the strengthening of all families. I will take on any position that allows me to help make this change of keeping children in care safe, reunifying families, and recognizing the hard work that foster parents volunteer to do on a daily basis. Together, by nourishing families, we are working to fortify our communities and build a better world.