“When I think of 600 to 800 abused and neglected foster kids of Asian descent who need a home that meets their culture, that’s a lot of kids that need help.” – Connie Chung Joe
The month of December is a time for family, for tradition, and for precious moments spent with loved ones; however, there is a harsh reality that I was exposed to this year in learning that, on average, Filipino foster kids make up the majority of Asian children in the Los Angeles County foster care system and more often than not, there are close to zero foster parents of Filipino descent to take them in.
Why is it important that foster kids are placed within their heritage, whenever possible? Three main factors: loss of culture, loss of language, and expounding levels of trauma.
Perhaps these traumatic experiences are not as unique in our community as we’d like to think. After all, family separation is a universal truth that all immigrants are exposed to, right? Particularly for Filipino Americans, our lolos, lolas, parents, and siblings may have ventured to the States, leaving you behind for a few years. Or, perhaps, you were the first generation of your family to emigrate and work towards sending money and holiday gifts back to the Motherland.
In some shape or another, the resilience of the Filipino spirit is extraordinary. I am reminded of that when I speak to the few Filipino foster parents who have created homes, temporary or permanent, for children to relearn what trust is. As adults, we have the power to impact children and remind them that they deserve to not only have three meals a day, but to simply smile and feel safe with people who care about them deeply.
While the reality and statistics of Filipino foster children in Los Angeles are jarring, they also expose an opportunity to tap into the true bayanihan spirit to move homes for these children.
When you meet foster parents, they certainly won’t sugar coat the fostering journey, but as one foster mother said, “once we have overcome all these difficulties, we see kids grow, we see kids thrive, we see kids are…happy – and that’s very important.”
The Asian Foster Family Initiative or AFFI is a foster family agency (FFA) that receives calls from LA County to support Filipino children and youth who are in urgent need of Filipino families to take them in – whether it be temporary or for longer, depending on each child’s case. Prospective families attend training sessions and go through series of interviews with AFFI to equip them with almost everything they need to become a resource family for children in need (according to recent laws, the new term for “foster families” is a “resource family”).
At AFFI, we educate, recruit, and train more Filipino Resource Families who can provide a loving, warm, and culturally sensitive home to the many Filipino foster children and youth in the system. Collectively, we can build on our bayanihan spirit.
To help paint a picture of the increasing demand for Filipino resource families, take into consideration the story of a 10-month-old Filipina infant who was newly detained in the foster care system in October – because she was in her prime years of learning language which would shape her worldview, it would have been optimal for her to join a Tagalog-speaking resource family, but none were available for her.
In November and December, multiple sets of Filipino siblings between the ages of 12-17 years old were in need of a Filipino resource family, but they were also placed outside of culture due to the limited pool of Filipino families to support them.
Our team at AFFI needs your help to spread awareness of this demand within our Filipino networks, not to “call out” or shame our community, but rather to uplift and empower our children and families through the bayanihan spirit. We urge you to inquire if you are interested in helping to transform lives.
“Don’t let fear hinder you from becoming a Resource Parent. If you have the heart to help, follow it,” Armida Chow, a Filipina Resource Parent urging Filipinos to inquire about the fostering journey to see if it’s a fit for their family.
We all know a family member, relative, or perhaps even ourselves who have the resources and the heart to share with these children. In order to attend our Pre-Approval Parent Trainings in March 2019, you must attend an Orientation hosted by the Asian Foster Family Initiative, which is the first and only Asian Pacific Island focused foster family agency in the nation. Please contact Mariah at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 235-4851 for any questions and/or to register.