"We need to raise awareness among San Franciscans of the critical need to keep foster kids in our community," said Mayor Breed. "In San Francisco, we do our best to support every member of our community, and this extends to caring for children who may be experiencing a tough time in their lives. We need our community to step up and embrace these kids in the foster care system, and provide them with love and guidance."
As San Francisco's child welfare agency, HSA's first priority is to keep children who are at risk of abuse and neglect safe at home with their families. When this is 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. In today's hearing, HSA announced its goal 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.
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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.
"San Francisco youth contribute so much to the vibrancy and diversity of our City. We can give back to those experiencing a difficult time by providing loving, stable environments in the communities they call home," said Supervisor Norman Yee. "As one of the most inclusive and generous cities in the world, we are calling on our residents to rise up to the challenge. We are looking for foster families, mentors, and those able to provide a permanent home to a foster youth. This can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do."
"Our aim is to keep our foster kids in the San Francisco they know and love whenever possible," said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. "One hundred new foster caregivers could make all the difference in keeping San Francisco foster children connected to their community. No matter your marital status, sexual orientation, or age, all kinds of adults and families have what it takes to become great foster parents."
Today's Board of Supervisors hearing also revealed trends in the decline of the number of children in San Francisco foster care. For example, 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 several factors, such as family reunification efforts that result in children spending less time in foster care and City 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.
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All kinds of people and families are needed to become foster parents, including LGBTQ+ families, empty-nesters, singles, and couples with or without children, as well as renters or home owners. HSA works to support parents throughout the application process and during foster placements. Once approved, supportive benefits and services for foster parents include child care, financial support, successful parent training, mentorship, and respite care.
HSA has launched a public information campaign to raise awareness of this issue and to compel residents to get involved to help the City's foster youth. Through advertisements on billboards, Muni buses and shelters, as well as digital and social media ads, the message is clear: if 100 people became foster parents, more children could remain in San Francisco. If caring directly for children is not something you can do right now, there are many other ways to get involved such as mentoring a foster child or donating to organizations that support foster youth.
The community is encouraged to visit Foster-SF.org or contact HSA at (415) 558-2200 where they can learn more about the many ways to support foster children and help make a difference in a child's life—as well as their own.
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