It’s National Foster Care Month, and Los Angeles County has planned a series of events aimed at attracting more families willing to mentor, foster or adopt children.
Roughly 500 children are waiting to be adopted into a loving home, said Neil Zanville, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Family Services.
“Through no fault of their own, they find that their world has been turned upside down,” Zanville said. “But they’re capable of accomplishing great things if they have someone who is there for them.”
That’s also the message of a video that will play when travelers log onto free Wi-Fi at Los Angeles International Airport this month. FosterMore’s “Because You Were There” video shares the gratitude of former foster youth whose lives have been touched by community members who stepped up to support them during a challenging time.
In addition to permanent adoptive families, the department is looking for what it calls “resource parents” — foster families willing to take a child into their home even though the child may ultimately return to his or her biological parents when it is safe to do so.
“It takes a special kind of person” to fill that role, Zanville said. “Where resource parents are needed most are for sibling groups and older youth,” ages 16, 17 or 18.
For families who may have questions about adopting an older child, DCFS also offers the chance to act as a mentor and get to know teens as part of a weekend program called Kidsave.
Like all children, teens need the stability and connection that a family offers, even as they are establishing their independence and growing into adulthood, Zanville said.
DCFS is also looking for parents sensitive to LGBTQ youth.
The demand for adoptive and resource parents has grown as DCFS phases out group homes as part of statewide reforms seeking to provide more family-oriented living situations.
Two informational events for prospective foster parents are scheduled this weekend, with several others to follow throughout the month. The Children’s Bureau will host a two-hour session beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at its Carson office at 460 E. Carson Plaza Drive, Suite 102. Five Acres, one of the oldest nonprofits in Los Angeles, will hold a 1 1/2-hour session starting at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at All Saints Church in Pasadena, 132 N. Euclid Ave. Foster parents will be on hand to talk about their experiences.
Families begin with lots of questions about caring for a child, but those who step up to foster or adopt find unexpected rewards, Zanville said.
“It just brings a lot of meaning and joy into their lives,” he said.
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