Foster Care Month
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to draw attention to the needs of thousands of children in Los Angeles alone and throughout the country that for whatever reason leave their homes and are entrusted to others to provide for their care. With great reluctance, a child is removed from the care of parents and family. The principle reason, of course, is to assure the safety and well-being of the child. But regardless of the reason for removal of the child from the family, foster care, as necessary as it is, can not be the solution, but rather a resource until the child can be restored to the family and community.
For too long we have demonized the families of the children served by the foster care system, judging them to be inadequate and indeed harmful to their children. But the truth is that these families, more often than not, are painfully aware of their challenges and with some assistance want nothing more than to see their children back within their homes. The role of foster care providers like Hillsides is to be a resource for these families and to assist them as they move along a path that will allow their families to be reunited. No matter what trauma a child may have experienced within their family, they want to be reunited–they want to go home.
The challenges are great for these families and, at times, they are significant enough to make it unsafe for a child to be cared for by a parent. Sometimes parents can not serve as the principle care giver, but it is rare that within the family unit there is not a relative that can indeed serve as a fine caregiver, allowing the child to be restored to the family. The value of a child growing up within a familiar and familial setting far outweighs the fine services they may enjoy in an institutional setting.
Foster care, whether offered by a family or in a group setting as we do at Hillsides, is an indispensible resource for the children and youth we serve and their families. It is not a substitute for the family, but rather an important component of care that provides not only a safe place, but also an array of services that helps the child to improve and move along a path that will lead to a stable future. Services are not only offered to the child, but the whole family is engaged to assist with the task of strengthening it to be able to, once again, welcome the child home.
This mission is embraced not only by our staff of extraordinarily gifted professionals, but our community of supporters. With your assistance, we are a tremendous resource for all those we serve.