Who’s Eligible

Youth ages 18-26 with experience in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, enrolled in college or trade school, located anywhere in the United States. You may only enter the contest once; if you were a finalist in the 2021 contest you may not participate this year.

Essay Guidelines

Please submit a 1,000 – 2,000 word essay that relates back to your experience with foster care, ESPECIALLY if you have experienced the justice system or homelessness in some way.

Your submission must include the following:

  • A title for your essay
  • A short written statement about you (100-300 words)
  • Your name, age and the state (and city or county) where you were in foster care and/or involved with juvenile justice & homelessness
  • Your email address and phone number
  • A photo to go with your essay

Essay Prompts

Choose one of the following:

  • What would a world without foster care, homelessness, or the juvenile justice system look like? (Choose one.)
  • What does safety look like to you? Use examples from your lived experience. 
  • Within child welfare/foster care, how has policy related to family reunification contributed to the separation of families?

Poetry Guidelines

Using one of the prompts below, write an emotional poem expressing your experiences dealing with the child welfare system, homelessness, or the juvenile justice system. You may submit your poem in a written or video format.

Prompts

Choose one of the following:

  • What would a world without foster care, homelessness, or the juvenile justice system look like?
  • Safety for me is …
  • How has the law been used to separate you from your family?

Deadline

Submit by 11:59 p.m. on February 18, 2022.

Prizes

Winners will have the opportunity to have their essays published in The Imprint as well as our print magazine, Fostering Families Today.

Essay: The grand prize winner will receive $1000 cash, one runner up will get $500 cash, and 3 finalists will each receive a $100 gift card.

Poetry: The grand prize winner will receive $500 cash, 1 runner-up at $250, and 2 finalists at $100 each.

Winners will be announced by the end of February 2022.

Details

By submitting your essay, you grant Fostering Media Connections permission to publish your work as it chooses, indefinitely. All submissions will be blinded, meaning judges will not have any identifying information about the author. Winners will be asked to submit a short bio and headshot and to work with our editors to prepare their photos for publication.

How to Submit

The contest is open from Dec. 20, 2021 through Feb. 18, 2022.

Access the essay submission form here.

Access the poetry submission form here.

Questions?

Email us at [email protected] or call us at (213) 379-5359 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday.

Good luck!