“we hope all DC residents take a moment to recognize that not all the children you see around your neighborhood have safe, stable homes”

foster family
stock photo of a foster family in DC

The following was written by Latin American Youth Center’s Amaris Montes.

If your child’s school has at least 100 kids in attendance, have you ever looked around and thought–“At least one of these kids is in foster care?” If you haven’t, you should start to. One in every 100 kids living in DC is in foster care; That is 1% of all children and youth in DC. They often go unnoticed and face unique challenges that are largely not addressed.

Take seven year old Felicia: She came into the foster care system after sexual assault by a family friend caused her to be separated from her biological mother. While her mother tries to improve her living conditions as best she can, is taking parenting classes, and works long hours at a restaurant so that Felicia can return to her care, Felicia lives with a foster parent. She lives with a loving single parent, Ms. Alanzo, who provides all the care and resources a normal parent would. Felicia understandably feels a mix of emotions–too many to process at just seven years old–and works them out by having excessive tantrums, ignoring her work at school, and needing a massive amount of attention. Her school is less than understanding of this behavior, threatening to kick her out of school if she doesn’t change her behavior. If this were to happen, Felicia would fall even more behind, lose the little continuity she has in her life, and her ability to trust and attach to adults and peers would be further jeopardized.

There are about 1,000 children in DC living in a foster home. May is National Foster Care Month, so during this month, we hope all DC residents take a moment to recognize that not all the children you see around your neighborhood have safe, stable homes. If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent, please contact the Latin American Youth Center’s Foster Care Program today at [email protected]

14 Comment

  • And yet DC family services places impossible hurdles in the way of folks looking to adopt from the system. I know a couple families who have wanted to adopt locally, but gave up and went for private or international adoption after years of runaround and incompetence from DC.

    • Was the problem related to the fact that these kids still had parents and reunification was still on the table? If so, that’s not incompetence. It’s just the model of modern foster priorities. Making it easy to strip children from families permanently because the parents made mistakes or have a drug problem isn’t something we should be pushing for more of.

      • +1. Had the exact same thought.

      • In one case, it was because the family was white, and the social worker was opposed to placing black kids in white families. She stonewalled them til they gave up. A different social worker told my friends after the fact that they were sabotaged.
        In another, I don’t know (and they don’t know) what the real issue was– but they were told a couple of times that they were guaranteed to “get” a certain child and then told later (after much paper work and lawyer fees and a million ignored attempts at follow-up) that it wasn’t going to work out after all. This happened to them three times, with three children. They had fostered other children, who weren’t available for adoption, and the whole thing eventually broke their hearts. They ended up not becoming parents at all. Their original plan had been to adopt two or three children, possibly a sibling group. And DC made them abandon that.

        • I’ve always wondered about that…I am disappointed but not surprised that there are racial elements at work in placement.

        • Meh, it’s a lot more complicated than the over simplified answers you’re posting here. Just because a child has a goal of adoption doesn’t mean that will end up being what happens, and If a family member is found who is suitable for adoption the kin caregiver gets preference. People shouldn’t go into foster care assuming they can adopt. It doesn’t work that way, and any social worker who “guarantees” an adoption is not giving good advice. Foster care is designed to be a TEMPORARY safe haven – if reunification isn’t possible, kin placements are preferred second, and the adoption. Plus, most kids nationally available for adoption are older or special needs, which tend to be kids that are unfortunately harder to find placements for.

        • probably a bit more complicated than you’re making it out to seem… and the “opposed to placing black kids in white families” is based entirely on upon your own speculation, unless you’re purposefully leaving out clarifying information here

    • I have not worked with CFSA directly but have friends with a whole range of experiences–some who fostered and the child was reunified, some who adopted, some who were disheartened and wound up having kids another way. I imagine that like many DC agencies, it is quite bureaucratic and a lot depends on which individual person you wind up working with (and whether they are flexible and friendly or rigid and easily offended).

      It’s worth noting that many (most?) kids in foster care are placed through agencies rather than directly through CFSA. I’ve heard that LAYC is one of the easiest to work with, but also one of the smallest (so if you are very picky about what type of child you can foster, it may require waiting).

      But for people who are interested in adopting from the foster care system (ie, would like to provide a permanent home to a child whose parental rights have been terminated) rather than fostering a child who may return to birth family, Barker and Adoptions Together each have programs to get families trained and licensed and homestudied and matched with kids. The kids tend to be school-aged and there are fees involved, but it is a good way to have a supportive community of adoptive families. Unlike CFSA, they can match children from all parts of the US, not just DC.

  • Thank you to all the foster care parents and care takers. Even if you can’t open your home and foster you can also volunteer with kids who are in the system or who have just gotten out and now back with their biological family. We are in a fantastic mentoring program called Best Kids where that works with kids who have been in the system or still are. We’ve been mentoring a brother and sister for almost 3 yrs now and we do fun things with our mentees like taking them out to try new food, to the baseball game, festivals and activities around the city, what ever fun stuff you’d normally do. We see our mentees approx. 10 hrs. a month. They are always looking for new mentors, especially men and especially African Americans.
    http://bestkids.org/index.html

  • I have so much respect and admiration for foster parents. It’s a heartbreaking job, but someone has to do it

  • Please please please confirm that all identifying information has been changed. That would include the child’s first name and the foster mother’s last name. No one should ever provide identifying information for such a young victim of sexual assault. I’m assuming/hopeful that all identifying information has been changed, but I don’t see it noted anywhere.

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