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May 21, 2015

Before Jamie Schwandt was a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve—before he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, earned his Doctor of Education degree, published a book, gave a public lecture, or became a husband a father—he was a vulnerable child in foster care.

In his own words, his life before foster care was destined for failure. His childhood was marked by his parents’ depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and his father’s eventual suicide. He found his opportunity to change his life in foster care. 

“My first foster family introduced me to God, and my CASA worker and her husband were the reason I was baptized,” Jamie said. “I had foster families that took the time in the evenings to read the Bible to me. They helped me with school work, provided structure and discipline, and encouraged me to be socially active. I owe my success in life to God and to the great people I met in foster care.”

He entered the United States military at age 17 and has built his career serving our country. He defied the odds when he completed his bachelor’s degree (current statistics suggest about 2 percent of children in foster care will complete a college degree), and he went on to earn his Ed.D from the University of Kansas. For his dissertation, he studied the foster care system, specifically looking for themes that might indicate how children in foster care could overcome a turbulent childhood and achieve personal and professional success.

He spoke with Brian DeVos, Bethany Christian Service’s Senior Vice President of Child and Family Services, about his experience in and research on foster care. Both are helping to shape the future of a system that has so much potential to positively shape a child’s life.

Jamie Schwandt is the author of Succeeding as a Foster Child: A Roadmap to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Success. 

Listen to Bethany's Every Child audio podcast . Bethany's leadership engages leading voices from ministries, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and the arts to discuss issues relevant to children and families. Learn more and hear about topics such as child welfare, family preservation, social justice, and culturally appropriate social services in developing countries.

Bethany Christian Services is a leading nonprofit adoption and child welfare agency helping to bring children and families together and keep families together.