First Star was founded in 1999 as a national 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to improving life for child victims of abuse and neglect.
First Star's leadership firmly believes in the primacy of children's basic interests and rights. An emphasis on best practices and better outcomes benefits children in child protective services, dependency courts and foster care systems across the U.S. and plants the seeds for long-term change in the way our society treats its children.
First Star balances education, policy and research with public awareness to heighten visibility and to deepen knowledge about the plight of society's most vulnerable children – those who are abused and neglected. Children cannot advocate for themselves, so the grown-ups must see that they are heard. First Star's collaborative and multidisciplinary approach encourages interaction among various child-related constituencies, institutional and professional disciplines, and decision makers. The objective: To bring together theory and practice in making children's welfare a first priority for all Americans.
All knowledgeable observers acknowledge that the nation's child protective services system is far from ideal. Pessimists may even declare the system beyond repair, but such thinking does not help the millions of children who rely upon its services each year.
First Star believes it is vital to recognize what has often gone wrong, determine how the mistakes were made, and to take concrete steps to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Our ongoing programs include the research and publication, in conjunction with CAI, of new and updated editions of our influential national report cards on A Child's Right to Counsel and State Secrecy and Deaths in the U.S. First Star is working in conjunction with the Steve Nash Foundation, to establish a specific and focused institute for the study of Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. We are leading an exciting new multi-campus educational initiative to create residential Foster Youth Academies on college and university campuses. Finally we continue to support precedent setting litigation on behalf of children. First Star rightly challenges the notion that nothing can be done, especially when children's lives are at stake. If best practice already exists somewhere in this great nation, then why not everywhere?
Citizen action is also critical, so please consider the following ideas as a way to help America's children:
- Become a CASA (www.nationalcasa.org)
- Talk to a trial judge about dependency courts.
- Visit a dependency court in your home state.
- Meet with a foster child group in your state.
- Hold a local Youth Summit for Children in Foster Care to learn more about their needs.