Program Overview

RESPOND is a culturally competent approach to foster care, designed to support potential foster/adoptive/guardianship families from the Black community to provide placement for children that enter the foster care system. RESPOND’s core components focus on recruitment, education, and support for potential foster parents, while developing an ongoing network dedicated to children’s success in foster care.

Cultural competence is a fundamental aspect of RESPOND. It emphasizes the ability to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures. This includes planning, implementing, and evaluating child welfare programs and interventions in a manner that considers and responds appropriately to these differences.

The need for RESPOND arose due to the significant shortage of Black foster parents in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Currently, only 17% of local foster parents are Black, despite twice the number of Black children being placed into foster care compared to Caucasian children. Furthermore, African American children tend to remain in foster care nearly a year longer than their White counterparts.


  • Black individuals and families who are interested in providing a loving home for children impacted by the foster care system.
  • Must be able to pass child abuse/neglect and criminal background screenings.
  • Must meet the minimum age requirement of 21 years or above.
  • Must reside in St. Louis City or the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Warren.

What to Expect

RESPOND acknowledges existing cultural barriers and biases within the foster care system. To address this, the program actively seeks input from child welfare professionals and members of marginalized communities to gain a deeper understanding of their needs. RESPOND then provides relevant education and resources to eliminate these barriers and biases, ensuring an equitable foster care process for all children.

As a program of the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, RESPOND is dedicated to finding forever families for children in foster care. It achieves this through recruitment efforts and by supporting families with education and training. RESPOND offers additional culturally relevant 1:1 professional and peer support to families throughout the recruitment and training processes.

Program Goals

A key objective of RESPOND is to dismantle social injustices in foster care by implementing anti-racist practices. It aims to provide safe and supportive environments for children within their families and communities of origin. However, when this is not possible, RESPOND ensures that local African American children are placed in foster homes that reflect their ethnicity, race, and culture. This approach is based on a successful model developed by St. Louis African American foster parents in the 1990s.

The Coalition, with its mission to create permanency in foster children’s lives, guides RESPOND’s efforts and initiatives. By working together, RESPOND, and the Coalition strive to increase the number of foster care placements of minority children and improve the overall well-being of children in foster care in the metropolitan St. Louis region.

In the News

5 On Your Side KSDK (May, 25, 2023) “St. Louis nonprofit recruiting Black foster parents for Black children”

STLPR (April 10, 2023) “How one St. Louis nonprofit is recruiting Black adults to foster Black children”


Jenny Jones – Director of RESPOND
1750 South Brentwood Boulevard, Suite 210, Saint Louis, MO 63144

o 314.367.8373

RESPOND Inquiry Form