2018 AOI National Awards Program Overview

The 2018 AOI National Awards Program is officially launched! Our awards will recognize foster caregivers and organizations in the U.S. for the great work that they are doing to help foster youth age out of foster care and into independence successfully. We want to identify and share the strategies of those who are finding success so everyone in foster care can learn and benefit from them.

There will be awards for caregivers (foster parents and houseparents/staff of group homes) and organizations that use successful strategies to prepare youth to age out of foster care. There will also be awards for organizations that use successful strategies to support youth after they have aged out:

The 12 winners will be selected from applications submitted by foster caregivers and organizations that can demonstrate that their strategies are effective in helping youth transition to adulthood. Applications can be downloaded and submitted January 1st through February 28th in 2018.

There will also be two optional awards that cannot be applied for directly, but might be given out should an applicant earn the recognition:

Innovation Award: This award would be given to an applicant that has developed and implemented innovative strategies for helping youth age out of foster care that have been shown to be effective. The winner of the AOI Innovation Award does not have to be a winner in the category (or categories) for which the applicant applied, but the judges will need to identify the strategies being used in at least one category as being particularly creative and reflective of “out of the box” thinking. This award may or may not be given out each year – it depends on the applications received.

Integrated Strategies Award: This award would be given to an applicant that provides services and applied for awards in all four categories. The winner would have needed to submit strategies that prepare youth in all four categories, support them in all four, or provide a mix of both preparation and support – as long as all four categories are addressed. The winner of the AOI Integrated Strategies Award does not have to be a winner in any of the categories for which the applicant applied, but the judges will need to determine that the strategies submitted provide a solid umbrella of services for the youth with whom the applicant works. This award may or may not be given out each year – it depends on the applications received.


The basic 2018 timeline is outlined below:

  • January-February:  Award program applications and rules will be posted on the website. Applicants will go to the AOI website to request an application.
  • March-June: A panel of judges will review the applications and select the winners.
  • July: Awards will be ordered and press releases will be written.
  • August:  Winners will be announced.
  • August-December: Winning strategies will be written up as white papers.
  • January, 2019: Winning strategy white papers will be made available to the foster care community through membership with AOI.  (If we are able to get the strategy papers written sooner than expected, we can make them available before January.)

Meet the Judges:


Click here to read brief biographies of the eight individuals who have graciously volunteered to be judges for the 2018 AOI Awards Program.



Award Sponsors:

Click on the trophy below to see the organizations who have sponsored the 2018 AOI Awards Program!

Participation Eligibility:

  • To be eligible to participate in the AOI Awards program, the applicant must be:
    • a foster parent or couple currently active in the system and in good standing with their state;
    • a houseparent, houseparent couple, or staff member who works with foster youth in a group home; or
    • a representative of an organization (nonprofit, social enterprise, or agency) that provides services for youth aging out of foster care.
  • There are four award categories: Education, Employment, Housing, and Relationships.
    • Each application must focus on one category.
    • You may submit up more than one application if more than one category is addressed by your program, or if you run more than one program that address different categories.
    • If you apply for an award in more than one category and can demonstrate that the program represented in one category directly supports a program in another category, there will be space in each application to provide an explanation of that crossover impact.
    • If you apply for an award in all four categories, you will be considered for a special award that recognizes holistic support of foster youth as they transition to adulthood.
  • To apply in 2018, programs/services/strategies must have been implemented with current or former foster youth for at least two years, including all of 2016 and 2017. This timeframe allows for both the implementation of the applicant’s program, as well as sufficient time to determine if the program has been successful.
  • If not selected for an AOI Award in 2018, applicants may updated and resubmit their application in succeeding years.
  • If you win an award, you may not submit an award application for the same program in the same category/subcategory combination in any subsequent year.

For the full list of award program rules and to request an award application, click here.