Sunday, March 8, 2020

Consider becoming a foster parent

The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) and legislators are urging SF residents to support children who have experienced abuse and neglect, by considering becoming a foster parent or mentor, or adopt SF kids. The Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee is emphasizing that new state mandates to place foster children with families rather than in group homes has increased the need for more local families to become foster parents.

HSA’s first priority is to keep at-risk children safe at home with their families. When not possible, social workers hope to place foster children with a trusted relative or identify caring foster families in San Francisco that can keep children connected to their community, in addition to the relatives, friends, and school connections they rely upon every day. HSA's new goal is to add 100 new foster homes in San Francisco so that the majority of foster children for whom the Agency cannot find a relative caregiver will be able to remain in the City.

The need for foster homes is increasing as state law requires foster children to transition out of group homes. Under California’s Continuum of Care Reform, new child welfare practices will reduce these group settings and increase home-based placements with foster families, which result in better long-term emotional and developmental outcomes for youth. For children on the path to reunifying with their family, remaining in San Francisco can also help facilitate essential visits and bonds with parents.

In 2000, there were more than 2,400 children in care (0-17 years old), and this year there are 485, representing a decrease of 80 percent. This is due to factors like family reunification efforts, resulting in children spending less time in foster care. Also, SF partnerships with neighborhood-based non-profit agencies to help prevent children from entering foster care by providing vital services to families in need. These services include counseling, child care, parent education, mentoring, case management, and other activities that strengthen families and improve children’s well-being.

SF encourages all kinds of people and families to become foster parents, including LGBTQ+ families, empty-nesters, singles, and couples with or without children. Renters and homeowners are welcome as well. Once approved, supportive benefits and services for foster parents include child care, financial support, successful parent training, mentorship, and respite care.

Visit Foster-SF.org or contact HSA at (415) 558-2200 to learn more about how to support foster children.

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