To say that Harbor City resident Cora Peterson has a massively large family is no exaggeration. It’s grown exponentially over the years after she first became a foster parent in 1976 — since then, she has parented over 400 children.
She admits it’s hard to say no when the need is so great, especially when the rewards of saying yes are life-changing.
“They (DCFS) would call and say they have a child that needs a home, and I would say, ‘Ah, let me think about it.’ Then I would say ‘Yes,’ because they needed a home. It’s all about needing a home, and helping and nurturing and supporting,” said Peterson.
Los Angeles County has 14,269 children and young adults in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, and 5,369 live with resource families – a term the department chose to use as it streamlined the foster parenting process.
“A resource parent, former foster parent, is the name we call individuals who bring children into their care, open their hearts and homes, and provide us assistance,” said Edwina Lewis, DCFS supervising children’s social worker.
The department is constantly looking for people willing to open their homes to children, who for one reason or another, are removed from their primary caregiver’s custody.
“I did children from zero, fresh out of the womb, to 18. And it was just a wonderful experience seeing how the children integrated with the family and supported each other,’ said Peterson.
There are some requirements that must be met to become an LA County Resource Family, you must pass a background check, can be single or in a relationship, complete an online training course, pass a home inspection and a certain income level must be satisfied.
Peterson says the first step is the easiest, “Call in and go to orientation, see if this is something for you. It may not be for you. You might want to be a volunteer or mentor.”