Supporting Foster Youth & Families
Can you tell me more about National Foster Care Month?
National Foster Care Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau of the Federal Government, and LA County Library is doing its part to raise awareness about foster care in Los Angeles throughout May.
May is the month to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the foster care community who help children and youth find permanent homes and families.
There are more than 391,000 children and youth in foster care in the United States and more than 35,000 in LA County. We hope to recognize those who make a meaningful difference in the lives of foster children in Los Angeles and beyond.
How is LA County Library supporting foster care youth and families throughout National Foster Care Month?
LA County Library has a featured booklist with curated titles about the journeys of foster youth and parents. You can read below for a Q&A on becoming a foster parent, and you can find important resources from Department of Children & Family Services.
We’re also giving away a free book to every young person (17 and under) in foster care who signs up for a new library card at one of our libraries in May. See below for more details.
Expand your awareness on foster care and the issues impacting more than 35,000 children and teens in Foster Care in Los Angeles County with these curated titles about and inspired by the journeys of foster youth and foster parents.
How to Become a Foster Parent: A Q&A
Opening your home—either temporarily or permanently—to a child or teen may be a rewarding experience that may dramatically improve the trajectory of someone’s life. Becoming a foster parent carries significant responsibilities, and the process may be intimidating for those who are just starting to think about it. In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, we had the pleasure of connecting with Kym Renner, Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), to learn more about foster care and what it takes to become a foster parent.
What should prospective foster parents consider before becoming a caregiver?
Becoming a resource parent requires patience, flexibility, a good sense of humor, a willingness to grow and learn — but most of all, a commitment to provide a safe, stable, nurturing and loving home for a child. It is a wonderful thing to want to open up your home to a child or youth in need, and it is a decision that can be immensely rewarding for both parent and child. That said, this is not a decision that should be made quickly or in isolation. Remember, this is not a part-time role; prospective parents should take the time to consider how this will change their everyday life, including how it will impact other members of their family.
What are the eligibility requirements to become a foster parent?
In order to be eligible to foster or adopt through DCFS, you must be a Los Angeles County resident of at least 18 years of age, and you must complete the Resource Family Approval process. You may also choose to foster or adopt through a Foster Family Agency.
What is the Resource Family Approval process and what steps does it entail?
The RFA process is designed to help you discover whether fostering or adopting is right for you. If you are looking to become a foster parent, adopt, or take guardianship of a child, there are six steps to take to become a Resource Family:
- Complete the application
- Complete the online orientation
- Complete background checks
- Attend pre-approval and pre-placement training
- Have a social worker complete the home environment assessment
- Complete a family evaluation that determines your readiness to be a resource family
While it may seem daunting, our staff will be there every step of the way to guide you and support you throughout the process. We want to make sure that resource parents are prepared and have all the resources necessary to be successful in this role and to be the pillar of strength and support children and youth are looking for.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to decide if becoming a foster parent is right for them?
I would invite them to visit FosterLAKids.org to learn more about becoming a resource parent. They can submit the Resource Family Approval application and complete the online orientation from here, which are first steps to becoming a resource parent. They can also call our Foster and Adoption Recruitment line at 888.811.1121 to ask questions. There are also so many other ways to help, so if it turns out that they aren’t quite ready for a full-fledged parenting role, I encourage them to visit our website to explore volunteer opportunities with DCFS, their community and other foster care programs.
How can foster parents make a positive impact on the lives and well-being of children, youth and teens?
Children, youth and teens in foster care have already endured adverse circumstances in their young lives—what they really need is love, support and guidance. All young people have their own aspirations and dreams, and they need a nurturing environment that will allow them to see their own potential. They deserve to have a sense of stability and to be around adult role models they can trust.
Simply being present and showing that you care and are willing to listen can mean more than people realize. Foster parents can have a long-lasting, positive impact on the lives of children in care by being their rock in a time of crisis, guiding and teaching them how to navigate challenging situations, and helping them understand that they are unique and special individuals who have a lot to offer and deserve to be loved.
Library Cards for Youth in Foster Care: Get a Free Book!
In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, we’re giving away a free book to every young person (17 and under) in foster care who signs up for a new library card* at one of our libraries in May. We’re happy to offer the Library Card for Youth in Foster Care in partnership with the Department of Children & Family Services.
*Cards may take up to 10 days to be verified/activated.
Resources from Department of Children & Family Services
Foster Youth Benefits Eligibility Finder
Fostering Families Today Magazine
Steps to Becoming a Resource Parent – PDF | En español
Why Become a Resource (Foster/Adoptive) Family? – PDF | En español
Fostering in LA County: Myth vs Fact – PDF | En español
LA County Foster Youth Bill of Rights
Independent Living Program (ILP) & Youth Development Services Division (YDSD)