It Takes a Village is the first comprehensive guide to help you navigate the child welfare system in Massachusetts, negotiate your role as a foster parent, make a difference for the children in your care, and attend to your own needs throughout this fulfilling and challenging journey.

It Takes a Village can be purchased on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis.

No one will be denied this incredible resource due to an inability to pay.


Our second edition is now available!

Updated in 2023 and published in February 2024, with new Family Resource policy information and terminology.

AOK has supported hundreds of foster, preadoptive, and kinship families along their foster care and adoption journeys since its inception in 2017. This guide compiles and presents the information and support that families routinely seek from AOK, with empathy and wisdom.

This 87-page guide is what every foster parent needs on their bookshelf.

It Takes A Village is a common-sense, no-nonsense, guidebook you will refer to again and again as you travel the road of foster parenting.

Contents include:

  • The inner workings of DCF, who the players are, and how cases work their way through the foster care system;
  • An outline of how cases progress through the courts;
  • How to advocate for yourself with the DCF chain of command;
  • How to facilitate a connection to your children's birth families and siblings;
  • How to care for your own emotional needs and those of your permanent children;
  • How to deal with grief, loss, and other complicated emotions; and
  • What you need to know about census forms, taxes, birth certificates, social security numbers ... And so much more!

"It Takes a Village adds a depth of understanding and empathy long overdue. The respect and honor given to foster children, birth parents, and foster families is so true and can't be overstated. The handbook should be made available not only to foster families but to birth parents, social workers, attorneys and in some instances teachers, neighbors, therapists and coaches."

— Susan Crane,
Family Resource Worker (Retired), MA Department of Children & Families

"It Takes a Village gives an accurate view of all aspects of being a foster parent, from the Home Study process right on through to how best to navigate the court system.  It will answer the questions you have and bring many more to light you haven't even considered."

— Catherine Twiraga
Adoptive Parent & President, Massachusetts Alliance for Families

"It Takes a Village speaks to one of the most challenging components of working with a large bureaucratic agency, and that is a lack of consistency. Foster parents armed with this guide can feel empowered by a deeper understanding of foster care but more importantly the knowledge that there is the support system of All our Kids behind them in their journey."

— Melissa Tyler Tarjick
Foster/adoptive parent of 20 years, Massachusetts Alliance for Families