Ruth White


What Do We Do with the Kids?

Ep. 105 - What's happening to children reaching an age to leave a foster home? What do we do with kids when there is not a good place to go?  Ruth White is the Executive Director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare. Children need better homes where they're protected either with their families or with people who will genuinely take care of them. Young adults coming out of foster also require a stable place to call home so they don't become homeless. She champions young people in foster homes who have reached an age of majority and normally have to leave. However, many colleges during COVID allowed young people to stay and foster students were allowed to stay as well. She describes the benefits of the family unification program and her passion to help children.

Top Takeaways:

    • Learn to always take advantage of the available opportunity- it might open unimaginable doors for you
    • The importance of a robust and flexible system that supports all homeless people with care by providing them with housing first
    • Learn about the two ways in which the foster care system needs to change to protect children welfare
    • The importance of reading and arming yourself with information plus trying out your idea to the world

Listen in to learn the importance of a robust and flexible system in America that supports and cares for all homeless people regardless of their reasons for becoming homeless.

"Your idea is probably just as good as anybody who is in leadership today, so go out there and try to make a difference in the world" -Ruth White

Ruth is one of the nation's leading experts on an axis between housing policy and child welfare. She is the former director of Housing and Homelessness Child Welfare League of America where she co-edited the landmark issue of the League's journal, Child Welfare, documenting the extent to which children are needlessly held in foster care because their parents lack decent housing.

Through Ruth's advocacy, over $100 million in new funding for the Family Unification Program has been made available for families and youth in child welfare since 2009.  Ruth worked directly with current and former foster youth to design the concept of "on demand" vouchers for youth for HUD's new Foster Youth to Independence Initiative.

Prior to working at CWLA, Ruth managed the front-door family shelter and redesigned the homeless coordinated entry system in Columbus, OH, reducing shelter entries by over 60 percent.

You will also learn about the ways the foster care system needs to change to make it a safe place for children.

Key Moments:

Ruth talks about her childhood as the youngest of 10 children [2:20]

How her career started in the housing and community development policy area working and learning from an older generation of men [3:32]

How she blazes the trail for young women by listening to them and exposing them to opportunities [5:09]

Having the compassion to be part of the solution to Americans housing problems [8:37]

Why there's a need for a robust and flexible system that supports and cares for homeless people in America [10:07]

Ruth explains the meaning of housing first and the reason why homelessness numbers have gone up in 10 cities in the last decade [13:10]

How they're unifying families or finding good adoptive homes for children who cannot be with their parents plus helping young people out of foster care to be self-sufficient [16:20]

How the foster care system needs to operate seamlessly to protect children [17:37]

The meaning and the benefits of the family unification program [19:22]

Ruth explains how young people became incorporated into the voucher program [20:47]

Ruth advises young women on executing their ideas and reading to impact the world [24:31]

Relevant Links



LinkedIn Ruth White

Ruth White

Changing Lives

Ruth White on Reform

Family Defense Interview

Coping In Crisis Ruth White

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