FAN is a youth-centered community of safe places and linked hearts.
We provide youth impacted by the child welfare system opportunities to nurture their interests and talents, acquire new skills, and gain a sense of personal and group recognition in an atmosphere of hope.
The name FAN has deep roots in the foundation of the organization. FAN stands for Fihankra Akoma Ntosaso, meaning safe house, linked hearts. In the Akan culture of West Africa, the Fihankra is a communal housing compound which symbolizes a “safe enclosure” or “safe house.” Akoma Ntoaso means “linked hearts,” and is a symbol of understanding and agreement. Many young people do not have access to such safe environments, which are critical to their development.
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Why Washington, DC Needs FAN
FAN has changed the lives of more than 150 teens in foster care since 2005 by providing an after school and summer-time “home base”—a safe and engaging space with supportive staff. For many young people, this is the most consistent home and family that they have known.
More than 1,100 children live in foster care in Washington, DC and many who enter the system are teenagers.
The percentage of those children who spend more than 24 months in the system has grown to 60% in 2012 from just 36% in 2004.
Only 40% of youth are employed upon exiting care. Of those who were employed, 90% earned less than $10,000 per year.
These young people bring a complex array of behavioral and emotional challenges best met through a deep, extended commitment in an intimate setting. Frequently, the child welfare system treats these young people as “problems to be managed,” focusing on what is wrong with youth, rather than what is right. Youth who are relatively “problem free” are largely ignored, without consideration for supporting healthy development and thriving. Many broader programs cannot effectively manage the unique needs of youth in foster care, such as the therapy and visitation appointments, placement changes, and special behavioral support that FAN provides or coordinates. FAN’s programs are truly unique in their ability to support youth in foster care and to meet their specialized needs.