In the last 26 years, I have witnessed my share of policy changes and shifts in the dependency system, but one constant remains unchanged: the desperate need for foster homes. The sheer numbers are staggering and disheartening. In Los Angeles County alone, approximately 30,000 children are caught in the intricate web of the foster care system. And as we travel through the other counties we serve, we find the figures are equally harrowing: San Bernardino County (5,300); Riverside County (4,000); Orange County (2,000); Ventura County (1,000). The dire need for foster parents is palpable, it’s unmistakable.
The lives of foster children are not cast in the mold of their choosing, but rather are shaped by circumstances beyond their control. These children, innocents who endure perilous conditions at home, find themselves in a world where their health and safety hang in the balance. They are in situations where their parents cannot provide the safe haven and basic necessities they deserve. When these children are torn from their homes, they find temporary solace in the arms of foster families until the day when a safe and loving environment can be restored.
My inbox is constantly flooded with requests for foster parents. The messages are familiar, but today, the nature of these pleas has transformed. It used to be predominantly about teens or large sibling groups, but now, we’re racing against the clock to secure homes for children of all ages, especially those aged 0-5. Just like you, HFS believes that every child, regardless of their story, deserves a stable and secure environment in which to grow and thrive, whether for a brief period or a lifetime. Becoming a foster parent is a way to transform this belief into action.
One of our cherished partners, Centinela Hospital, frequently has newborns ready for discharge but no foster homes to welcome them. The journey of fostering a child or a group of siblings can be as brief as a few days, or stretch on for several months, and sometimes even years, depending on the circumstances of the child and the family. Sometimes, these placements turn into something even more beautiful – adoption. When the immediate family cannot offer a safe and loving home, foster parents often step into the role of forever parents.
The path to becoming a foster parent may seem daunting, but with HFS by your side, it’s a journey filled with support and encouragement. We provide the training and support services necessary to become a certified foster parent, holding your hand through the approval process and beyond.
Take a moment to visit our website at www.hfs.org, and you’ll find a wealth of information on fostering and the opportunities it offers. We urge you to pause, to reflect, and to consider how you can have a permanent and positive impact on a child’s life. Be the guardian angel they desperately need, and give them a second chance for a healthier and happier childhood. Together, we can rewrite their stories, one loving home at a time.
Julie Brown, Executive Director HFS