Before my current job as a stay-at-home-mom, I worked for Five Acres. Five Acres is a Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society of Los Angeles County. Five Acres has been serving families and children in the surrounding communities of Los Angeles since 1888. They have a long history of caring for and protecting children from neglect and abuse. Five Acres originally started out as an orphanage in 1888. Now, they offer a variety of services from “residential care and educational services, mental health services in homes and schools, foster care and adoptions, and domestic violence prevention,” as stated on their website.
During my time at Five Acres I learned a lot about foster care and its benefits. I didn’t understand the depth of foster care until I became a mother. There is nothing more wonderful than loving and providing for a child. When I worked with several of the children at Five Acres, I saw how important it was to them to find a foster family, even if for just a short while. The stability and family life that is offered through foster care is something most children in a residential treatment center yearn for.
There are so many options for starting a family these days–from fertility treatments to adoption. With National Foster Care Month behind us, I would like to encourage people to think about foster care as one of the options for starting or growing a family. Rita Elkaddoum, MA, MFTI works at Five Acres assisting families to take on the responsibility of foster care. She shared some of her expertise with me: “Fostering a child can be a rewarding experience that can promote healthy growth in children and their relationship to their community and environment, where you can make a difference in their lives.” It is true that it sometimes takes a lot of heart and a lot of patience to care for a child who has been through traumatic life experiences so early on in their life, but the benefits that fostering them will have on their lives will forever be irreplaceable. A foster family can provide more than just a roof over a child’s head; it can provide a safe place to be loved and raised.
Elkaddoum shared that “Children enter the foster care system for a variety of reasons, abuse or neglect, drug use in the home, death or incarceration of parents, home disruptions such as separation or divorce, mental health issues and dysfunction in the home. More then 56,000 children are placed in foster care in Los Angeles County.” It is obvious that the need for foster families is great. Families wanting to adopt should consider foster care because it can lead to adoption. There are so many children waiting in residential homes like Five Acres for their chance to be in a foster home. What better way to make a difference in your community? You may be thinking, “I already have 3 children,” or “I’m already a grandparent,” but those things shouldn’t stop you from being a short term foster care provider. There are many situations where a child may need a few months or a year of foster care. Even if your family is “set,” you could reach out to your community by fostering a child. This could help your children learn to share and be giving to those in need.
Five Acres assists families in becoming a safe and productive foster family. Elkaddoum explains, “At Five Acres I help the youth transition to good foster homes where foster families have received training in the area of mental health, who have opened their homes and hearts to children.” Foster care can be an encouraging and rewarding experience for all those involved, from the children to the foster family as well as to the biological family of the child in need. Find out ways you can reach out to families in need in your community by contacting your local Department of Children and Family Services. Consider foster care for children in difficult situations. Help change a life!