Foster Care & Adoption
The child welfare system refers to the array of services and programs designed to ensure children’s safety and wellbeing. Most families become involved in this system after suspected child abuse or neglect, also referred to as “child maltreatment.” The Federal Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child maltreatment as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of the parent or caregiver that results in serious harm (abandonment, neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse) or which presents the threat of serious harm.” Any concerned person can report suspected child maltreatment to their local child protective services (in Los Angeles County, the Department of Children and Family Services or DCFS), but mandated reporters (those who are required by law, such as doctors or teachers) generate most reports. When allegations of child maltreatment are substantiated and it is determined that a child cannot safely remain in the care of his or her family, that child is placed in foster care with relatives or resource parents. The goal of foster care is to provide children with a safe, nurturing environment while parents or caregivers improve their parenting capacities and remove any threats to their child’s safety and wellbeing to ultimately reunify
A child enters foster care every two minutes in the United States; there are over 400,000 children currently in care. In Los Angeles County, approximately 20,000 children and youth are in foster care at any given time, making this one of the largest foster care systems in the country. Children remain in foster care temporarily until they are able to safely reunify with their family, until they are adopted, or until they “age out” of foster care and transition into adulthood. On average, children remain in care for approximately 20 months. Older children, sibling sets, children with developmental disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBTQ) tend to remain in care longer and are also less likely to be adopted. It is imperative to find safe and nurturing families for all children in foster care, and we are committed to championing this cause. But we need the help and partnership of quality resource families.