Photo: Nancy Crampton
Andrew Bridge spent 11 years in Los Angeles County foster care, then went on to earn a scholarship to Wesleyan, become a Fulbright Scholar, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Resident, and graduate from Harvard Law School. Andrew’s memoir Hope’s Boy is the true account of his life with his mother, a young mentally ill woman, of her efforts to keep and care for him, and of his life in foster care without her. As an adult, Andrew has spent his career bettering the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable children. His work has garnered coverage in Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest, PBS, as well as in newspapers, radio, and television across the country.
Andrew began his legal career representing children throughout the State of Alabama as a staff attorney at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center – a national civil rights organization in Washington, D.C. In 1996, Andrew became Executive Director of the Alliance for Children’s Rights in Los Angeles where he worked to expand the availability of legal services to children in foster care, children in poverty, children with HIV/AIDS or whose parents were dying of AIDS, and children with mental or physical disabilities.
Under Andrew’s leadership, the Alliance successfully sued Los Angeles County over its practice of not reviewing the safety of children in its care. The victory guaranteed foster children the right to see and speak with a social worker at least once a month. The Alliance also successfully challenged restrictions that forbid foster children and their families from openly discussing their experiences in the child welfare system.
Also, under Andrew’s leadership, the Alliance established the Health Care Partnership for Children to provide health care and related legal assistance to indigent children, as well as the Foster Children’s Adoption Project to streamline adoptions for Los Angeles County foster children. Andrew helped expand the Adoption Project into what has now become National Adoption Day – a coordinated effort to facilitate adoptions in cities across the nation – through which thousands of children continue to leave foster care and join new families. He also chaired Los Angeles County’s Blue Ribbon Foster Care Task Force, which investigated the safety and well-being of foster children after hundreds had disappeared or died while in county care. The Task Force’s recommendations received national attention.
Andrew is a founding director of New Village Charter School – one of the country’s first charter schools to focus on the needs of children in foster care and in the delinquency system. The school prepares girls in state care, as well as girls in the community, grades 7-12, for college, post-secondary education, or skilled employment. Andrew also serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Annes, a group home for pregnant and parenting teens.
Andrew left the Alliance in 2002 to become Managing Director of Child Welfare Reform at the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles. Since leaving the Broad Foundation and working to improve educational opportunities for foster children, Andrew completed his first book and memoir, Hope’s Boy. He is currently working on his second book, The Children of Eufaula, which describes the past and present lives of the children he represented at the Eufaula Adolescent Center in southern Alabama. Part personal narrative, part investigative journalism, The Children of Eufaula revisits a group of boys, now men, who grew up in Alabama’s foster care, state-psychiatric and juvenile justice systems. Their names and childhood traumas became embroiled, for better and for worse, in one of the largest and longest-lasting civil rights lawsuits in American history; and they have struggled to make a place for themselves in the world ever since.
A cancer survivor, Andrew now lives in Los Angeles.