Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis Wednesday announced the start of the county's first campaign devoted to supporting the Latino community's foster children and connecting them with loving families through the program Juntos con los Ninos, which in Spanish means "Together with the Children."
"Families that primarily speak Spanish are a valuable resource for children in our foster care system," Solis said. "Sharing Latino cultural traditions and a common language can reduce trauma for youth who are removed from their birth families and placed in a bilingual foster home. This cultural affirmation will put our children on a pathway to success in life."
Juntos con los Ninos partnered with the county's Department of Child and Family Services and the Office of Immigrant Affairs to start the campaign.
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Children and youth in foster care with at least one caring adult in their lives have significantly better lifetime outcomes than those who do not, according to Solis' office, especially when they share a cultural background that makes children feel more at home during a tumultuous time in their lives.
One caring adult involved in the life of a vulnerable child can help decrease rates of incarceration, teen pregnancy and drug use while increasing high school graduation rates, Solis' office stated.
"There are many children in foster care patiently waiting to be welcomed into a loving and safe foster or adoptive home,'' DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said. "They deserve to be part of a family that shares their culture, whether it is a temporary situation until they return home or permanent, if it's not possible for them to return to their parents due to safety concerns."
According to Solis' office, Los Angeles County has more than 19,000 children in foster care and half of them are Latino.
Carla Baeza and her husband are the parents of two boys they fostered and ultimately adopted through DCFS. Though they said the road has not always been easy, Baeza described the value of opening her home to children in need and seeing the positive affects on her family and community.
"Both of my boys only speak Spanish at home," Baeza said. "It has been an incredible experience to share the culture (my husband) and I were raised in with our babies, as we give them the tools to communicate with our family back home and integrate them into our community here in Los Angeles."
For more information about becoming a foster parent to Latino children in Los Angeles County, visit www.JuntosconlosNinos.org.