Six churches in the greater South Los Angeles area recently partnered to create the Faith Foster Families Network to offer another level of support to parents and youth involved in the foster care system.
Holman CDC of Holman United Methodist Church, the Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation of First AME Church, the West Angeles CDC of West Angeles Church of God in Christ all in Los Angeles, along with the Center of Hope in Inglewood, the City of Refuge in Gardena and Crossroads United Methodist Church in Compton are initial network members, but FFFN plans to reach out to more South L.A. ministries to participate in the future.
According to spokesperson Nancy Harris of Holman CDC, the group’s goal is to provide resources, education, activities and advocacy for foster families and youth. FFFN expects to work closely with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services and a range of agencies to fulfill its mission.
As part of its effort, FFFN will participate in the town hall on foster care in L.A. County taking place on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Center of Hope Church, 9550 S. Crenshaw Blvd., in Inglewood. The panelists will include Center of Hope Pastor Geremy Dixon, who is also a foster parent; Bobby Cagle, director of DCFS; Wendy Garen, CEO of The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; and Earcylene Beavers, a longtime L.A. foster parent and a featured subject in Participant Media and Emerson Collective’s forthcoming documentary, “Foster.”
The event sponsor is The Chronicle of Social Change, a national news site focused on issues facing that vulnerable children, youth and families and the public systems that serve them. Their aim is to highlight local efforts to more deeply involve churches and other faith organizations in foster parent recruitment and retention.
“Churches are an obvious alternative safety net for foster families and youth,” said Harris. “It is also scriptural. In James 1, we are mandated to take care of the orphans and the faith community has ready and willing bodies to provide support.”
Acknowledging that not everyone can be a foster parent, Harris cited other areas where church members can assist such as volunteering to give respite care to foster parents who need a mini-vacation or offering to transport youth to various activities.
“Families also face challenges such as trauma or PTSD issues that some foster youth may have. These families need help in connecting with mental health professionals in the churches,” added Harris.
Data collected by DCFS indicate that disproportionately high numbers of Black children entering the foster care system. At the town hall, Cagel of DCFS will share the progress of the countywide faith-based program to provide support including foster family recruitment, parent coaching and counseling services.
The town hall is free and open to the public.