My name is Lori Santo. I am a city government employee, wife of 18 years to Brad, and mom to two amazing (and sometimes maddening) kiddos. Some days I feel like I am a well-oiled machine and rocking it in the working mom department; working a full day before running my kids to various appointments or classes and then running home to make a nutritious dinner. But most others, I feel like I’m more of an apology machine - apologizing to my boss for having to leave early for a child’s appointment, apologizing to daycare for forgetting to bring some items for an art project, and apologizing to my kids for serving them mac and cheese yet again. Just kidding! I have never had to apologize to my kids for serving them mac and cheese.
One thing I have always been sure of is that I am supposed to help others. We decided to become foster parents because we wanted to help children and learned of the great need in our state’s foster care system after attending a foster care orientation. Maybe like you, we took our training with stars in our eyes and felt we were prepared for anything. We thought the hardest part of fostering would be dealing with children with difficult behaviors in our home, we had no idea that dealing with the system would be the most challenging aspect of fostering.
It wasn’t long before we felt completely helpless navigating this system and advocating for the children. We had some amazing social workers, and some not-so-amazing. We had positive experiences, and some horrifying ones. Our license expiration coincided with the adoption process of our youngest, so with some relief, but mostly a heavy heart, we let our license expire to concentrate on our adoption process. I was determined to continue to help foster children in some capacity though, and not long after our licensed closed, I was introduced to the other amazing women of The Foster Innovation Lab.
Working within the government means that I often witness firsthand systems and processes that are not working as they were intended. I currently work with several different process improvement teams at my job, and I enjoy the cycle of identifying areas for improvement and then brainstorming solutions. Both at work and as part of The Lab, I am drawn towards team-building and solution-identification, and love the challenge of making things just a little better each day. I am so excited about what we have accomplished so far at The Lab and cannot wait to see what we have yet to do. The possibilities are limitless, and I hope you’ll join us!