How to have a positive impact on SoCal foster and transition-age youth this holiday season

By Tracy Smith

As we spend the holiday season enjoying the company our families it’s a great time to reflect on the meaning of family.

For most families, November is all about Thanksgiving—the kick-off to the holidays—getting together, shopping, gift giving (and getting), and lots of yummy food. For many youth across America though, November is National Adoption Month, and family is something they hope to experience.

Southern California has one of the largest foster youth populations in the country. Each year in the Greater Los Angeles area more than 30,000 youth hope and wait for a safe, loving home and a “forever family.” While the problem may seem overwhelming, the good news is that more than ever before there are many ways to help area youth.

As you may know, your friends here at PBS SoCal launched a public impact initiative: To Foster Change. Funded in part by the Conrad N. Hilton the initiative helps change outcomes for youth in Southern California.

And while adopting a foster youth may indeed be the biggest change one could make in the child’s life, it is certainly not the only change. There are plenty of ways we can all make a difference for a foster or transition-age youth, even when adoption is not an option.

  • A donation of money or a backpack can equip a child for an entire school year.
  • An hour of mentoring can help nurture a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
  • Providing a foster youth or former foster youth with an internship or a job can help secure their independence and future.
  • Volunteering at a local foster care support agency can transform lives in immeasurable ways.
  • And if able foster or adopt.

This holiday season while reflecting with family on the things for which you are thankful, please take a moment to consider those for whom family is a “holiday wish” and how in some way, big or small you may be able to improve the life of someone longing for the type of family you enjoy.

Ready to help? To Foster Change, and our community partners across Southern California are great places to start:

Children’s Institute, Inc.
CII today serves more than 24,000 children and their families in Los Angeles’ poorly resourced neighborhoods and communities. By donating gently used and new gear and clothing, you can help improve their everyday lives.

First Star
First Star has been partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts across the US to improve the lives of foster youth through higher education. In 2011, First Star pioneered the first-ever college prep program at UCLA to give Los Angeles’ foster youth better educational opportunities.

Children’s Action Network
Children’s Action Network is dedicated to raising awareness about and finding homes for the more than 101,000 children in foster care in the U.S. who are waiting for an adoptive family and improving outcomes for the more than 400,000 children in foster care.

Crittenton Services for Children and Families
A primary goal for Crittenton Services is to partner with caring and compassionate foster parents who can help us create a loving family environment for foster youth in need of our support. Anyone, including you, can become a foster parent as long as there is a desire to open your heart and your home.

Five Acres
Five Acres has been promoting permanent family solutions for foster youth and their families across Los Angeles County for over 128 years. There are various ways you can get involved.

Extraordinary Families
Extraordinary Families provides a unique, step-by-step approach to fostering or adopting through its PRIDE program for youth and families across Los Angeles and surrounding counties. There are various ways you can get involved.

Hathaway-Sycamores
Hathaway-Sycamores’ Child and Family Services provides special-needs children in foster care in Los Angeles County with foster and adoptive families. To help guide foster parents and families, Hathaway-Sycamores recruits, trains, certifies, supervises and supports in various ways.

Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Los Angeles County
DCFS serves thousands of children in Los Angeles County to find them safe and stable Resource Parents, which includes being a Foster and Adoptive Parent.