Supporting Adoption and Foster Care in L.A. County

by Janelle Meyers '08

Azusa Pacific University’s School of Theology and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) recently collaborated to reach a common goal: find homes and mentors for L.A. County foster children.

On September 21, APU and DCFS co-hosted the first-ever, faith-based community luncheon with approximately 225 pastors and community and government leaders in attendance, including representatives from the Islamic, Jewish, and Catholic faiths. “The goal was to motivate church leaders in the San Gabriel Valley to actively promote foster care and adoption in their congregations,” said Paul Shrier, Ph.D., event director and associate professor of practical theology.

This is the first time DCFS has joined with a faith-based organization of this size and invested parties hope to gain involvement from the community in fostering and adopting children. “The faith-based community is a rich resource that, for the most part, has not been tapped into by government agencies,” said Rex White, DCFS regional administrator. White, an APU alumnus, was enthusiastic about the numerous contacts DCFS will gain through the event.

Approximately 1,500 children are already in foster home placements in the San Gabriel Valley. Of these, more than 1,000 have been in foster care for over two years. The School of Theology and DCFS hope their efforts result in an additional 70 foster and adoptive homes and 100 mentors for foster youth in the San Gabriel Valley over the next year.

Both White and Shrier expressed the importance of following through after the luncheon. “This is just the first step of many,” said White. DCFS and APU volunteers plan to follow up with pastors and churches with further information and support.

Leaders from across the valley arrived to support the initiative, including Mayor of Azusa Diane Chagnon; J. Gomez, senior deputy to the mayor of L.A. County; Superintendent of Glendora School District Catherine J. Nichols, Ph.D.; and Mendell L. Thompson, president of America’s Christian Credit Union. All participants received information, including promotional videos and pamphlets, on how to become involved with the adoption and fostering process.

“This is historic,” said White. “Due to its size and scope, this is something that has never been done before. It’s allowing us to get deep into the community to help accomplish our goal to protect children.”

For more information, call APU’s School of Theology at (626) 815-5439.