Contact: Juana Aguilera
DCFS Office of Public Affairs
In observance of both National Foster Care Awareness and Pride Months, streetlight banners featuring celebrity LGBTQ+ families will be raised in the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The three-month public education campaign, which began May 1, is spearheaded by RaiseAChild, a collaborative partner of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Among those featured in the banners are the families of actor Alex Blue Davis (ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy), actress Cleo King (CBS’s Mike & Molly) and actor Griffin Matthews (HBO’s The Flight Attendant). The banners will be displayed on various streets and avenues across Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach.
DCFS Interim Director Brandon Nichols said the recruitment of families to help house and care for youth in foster care remains challenging. While the department serves about 19,000 children living away from their parents or guardians, there are only about 14,500 resource family homes. Campaigns such as these are critical opportunities to reach more diverse families.
“In 2021, DCFS responded to more than 43,000 child abuse referrals,” Interim Director Nichols said. “While we work very hard to keep families safely together, when that’s not possible, we rely on resource parents to help us provide safe and loving homes to vulnerable children times of need.”
RaiseAChild specializes in the recruitment, retention, and support of LGBTQ+ and allied resource and adoptive families. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Richard Valenza established the nonprofit organization 11 years ago and produces multi-media campaigns to increase foster and adoptive homes in Los Angeles County.
“The population of children and youth in foster care is as diverse as all of the various neighborhoods and communities that make Los Angeles County so unique,” Mr. Valenza said. “At RaiseAChild, we strive to welcome and serve every prospective foster and foster-to-adopt parent with respect, because we need a great diversity of safe and loving families to best serve the children and youth in foster care.”
Earlier this year, with support from Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the department formalized contracts with various community organizations, including RaiseAChild, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Penny Lane Centers, The Help Group and The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, for the provision of LGBTQ+ tailored youth services.
LGBTQ-affirming services are intended to uplift a youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Therapy, leadership and mentorship programs, crisis intervention services, support groups, training and education will also be provided to youth, their families and caretakers through these organizations.
“It’s always been love that makes a family,” Supervisor Kuehl said. “The love that LGBTQ+ and allied foster and adoptive families give a child can lay the foundation for a lifetime of stability and happiness … For the adults, it’s a chance to experience the hardest job you’ll ever love.”
To foster or adopt through DCFS, applicants must be at least 18 years old and residents of Los Angeles County; all applicants must complete the Resource Family Approval process. Applicants may also choose to work through a Foster Family Agency or agencies such as RaiseAChild (raiseachild.org). For more information, please call DCFS Foster and Adoption Recruitment at 888-811-1121 or visit dcfs.lacounty.gov.