Image of computer screen, logged into WordPress, with backend screen to create a new post.
Storms & Blossoms: Navigating Parenting During the Pandemic

Stories directly from foster care system alumni about parenting during the pandemic—their challenges, triumphs, and more

Image is a headshot of Elizabeth Aparicio, set inside the four corners of the ReSHAPING logo.

By Elizabeth Aparicio, PhD

Image is a headshot of Svetlana Shpiegel, set inside the four corners of the ReSHAPING logo.

By Svetlana Shpiegel, PhD

February 10, 2022

As we close in on the two-year anniversary since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s tough to imagine that’d we’d still be navigating wearing masks, vaccines, and safety protocols that keep us, our loved ones, and neighbors safe while balancing our own lives. And adding parenthood, working on the frontlines, and being home 24/7 to the mix, and it gets even tougher—especially for young parents who have had to traverse the foster care system as well.

“Growing up in group homes and spending time in hospitals, I never learned how to cook. I used to always eat out and spend money. To have your own place and actually make your own food feels much better. I just feel proud of the food I can cook.” – Alexx

That’s why ReSHAPING members Liz Aparicio, Svetlana Shpiegel, and Rhoda Smith along with Genevieve Martínez-García, Alexander Sanchez, Svetlana Shpiegel, Marissa Ventola, Amara Channell Doig, Michelle Jasczyński, conducted this PhotoVoice project from January to March 2021.

Storms & Blossoms showcases stories directly from foster care system alumni about parenting during the pandemic—their challenges, triumphs, and how they’re navigating challenging times while pregnant or parenting.

The PhotoVoice group consisted of parenting foster youth and foster system alumni aged 18-26 who met for three sessions to use photography as an outlet to explore their experiences while navigating COVID-19 restrictions.

This photobook was designed as a keepsake for group participants to be able to share their photographs, experiences, captions, and stories with one another as well as with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

Download and read all of the stories from Storms & Blossoms

Note: Names used in the book are pseudonyms. 

We want to give a special thank you to each of the PhotoVoice group participants for sharing their experiences and stories with us including Aaliyah, Alexx, Breanna, Navaeh, Sam, Alexander Sanchez, Natassia Gordon, Macey Laird, and Stefani Nazario.  

For more information about this PhotoVoice research project, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio at aparicio@umd.edu and Dr. Svetlana Shpiegel at shpiegels@mail.montclair.edu.  

This study was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Co-PI’s Aparicio and Shpiegel). The views expressed are those of the authors. The Annie E. Casey Foundation bears no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented in this book. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Storms & Blossoms

Dr. Aparicio conducts community-engaged research in order to improve health equity via three interrelated areas: teen pregnancy prevention and parenting support; early childhood intervention; and child maltreatment prevention. She works to serve as a conduit for community voices, especially of maltreated parenting youth, to become a critical part of the conversation on the practices and policies that directly impact them. Read more about Dr. Aparicio.

Svetlana Shpiegel is an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, Montclair State University. Her research focuses on the functioning of adolescents and young adults emancipating from the foster care system. She is particularly interested in early pregnancy and parenthood among current and former foster youth, and the effects of parenthood on their socioeconomic outcomes. Read more about Dr. Shpiegel. 

Discover the magic of the Network.