The faces of some notable former foster children — screen legend Marilyn Monroe, actress/comedian Tiffany Haddish and Olympic gold-medalist Greg Louganis — are featured prominently in a new street-banner campaign that began this week in an effort to recruit foster and adoptive parents.
The campaign by the nonprofit RaiseAChild — which will run through mid-July — is an effort to increase the number of foster and adoptive homes, particularly in Los Angeles County, which manages the nation’s largest child welfare system with 35,000 children in care, officials said.
Banners featuring the celebrity former foster kids were installed this week on hundreds of light poles across the Los Angeles area.
“The coronavirus pandemic has placed many families in uncertain circumstances due to unemployment, changes in family dynamics and heightened health concerns,” Bobby D. Cagle, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, said in a statement. “Our goal for this campaign is to encourage people to imagine themselves as foster or adoptive parents and join our virtual orientations and trainings so we are all better prepared in the aftermath.”
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said during a media briefing Thursday that even before the coronavirus pandemic, “foster homes are always a challenge for us and we’re always recruiting.”
“It’s different now, and the reality is we are taking all precautions as it relates to recruitment, even with our social workers going out, providing them with protective gear,” Barger said. “So we are still in operation, but not as robust as prior to COVID-19. But we are always looking for foster families that are interested in either fostering and/or adopting.”
RaiseAChild’s partners in the campaign include DCFS, along with Village Services and KTLA5.
“We’re honored to support RaiseAChild’s mission and bring awareness to this important cause,” said Katie Jones, vice president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Marilyn Monroe estate.
Jones said many people are unaware that Monroe grew up in the foster care system and often craved the stability of loving parents and a permanent home.
Haddish said in a statement that she experienced “the pain in foster care of being separated from my siblings” at a young age.
“It was then that I decided to do what I could to assure foster children that they are loved and valued,” Haddish said.
Meanwhile, Louganis said he was “very fortunate that I was adopted at nine months.”
“I even had the opportunity to briefly meet the woman who fostered me,” the Olympian said. “I have had amazing opportunities I never would have had otherwise. I am truly grateful.”
Rich Valenza, the founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based RaiseAChild, said the “one bright spot to come out of self-isolation is an increased interest in learning about the foster and adoption process.”
“We’re seeing increased attendance for our online orientations and hope to encourage even more people to learn how they can help children in foster care,” he said.
More information about the organization is available at its website: RaiseAChild.org.
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