Supporting Foster Youth & Families
Library Cards for Foster Youth: Get a Free Book in May!
In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, we’re giving away a free book to every foster youth (17 and under) who signs up for a new library card* at one of our libraries. We’re happy to offer the Foster Youth Card in partnership with the Department of Children & Family Services.
*Cards may take up to 10 days to be verified/activated.
How to Become a Foster Parent: A Q&A
Opening your home to a child or teen temporarily or permanently 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 Bobby Cagle, 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, and 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 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 do the steps 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
- Attend an orientation
- Complete background checks
- Attend pre-approval and pre-placement training
- Have a social worker complete the home environment assessment
- Complete a family evaluation, which 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 our 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 these 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 tell them to attend one of our resource family information sessions. Our Outreach and Recruitment section within the Resource Family Recruitment and Approval Division holds sessions throughout the community where prospective foster parents may learn more. 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?
I was born into foster care in North Carolina and had the good fortune to be adopted by loving parents when I was 10 months old. I feel a personal connection to the goal of making sure every child in foster care has a temporary or permanent loving family and is connected to caring adults. I know from my own experience, the love and support that a family can provide to a child or youth is unmatched and will make a lasting difference in their life.
Although Parenting can be a challenge in the best of circumstances, all children need to feel supported. Children, youth and teens in foster care have already endured adverse circumstances in their young lives, and 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 who 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.
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.