This month marks launch of Safe Families program at St. Andrew Parish, a collaboration between the parish, volunteers and child care professionals designed to support at-risk children and parents in need.

In May, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Life, Justice and Peace is celebrating National Foster Care Month by connecting the 298 parishes throughout the tri-County Archdiocese (Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara) with informational resources, prayers for Mass and partner agencies to help the community of faith learn about the numerous ways that they can change a child’s life. 

There are currently 34,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles County alone, the highest number in the nation.

“As Catholics, we know that the family is the basic building block of society and the domestic church, where children find encouragement and stability,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez. “There is an urgent need for foster families, especially for young children and infants. And Catholic parishes have begun to embrace foster parenting, showing radical Christian hospitality.”

The Office of Life, Justice and Peace began a pilot foster care awareness program at 15 parishes last year, and 323 families stepped forward to foster.

“Our Catholic community is eager to help children and families in need, but many don’t know how. This May, we are asking families to consider fostering and supporting other foster families in their parishes,” said Kathleen Domingo, director of Archdiocese’ Office of Life, Justice and Peace. “Through this effort, we can have a tremendous impact fighting poverty, keeping kids safe and helping to build strong families.”

To commemorate National Foster Care Month 2018, the Archdiocese has partnered with the following community organizations and agencies:

Foster All acts as a bridge for prospective families, connecting you to foster agencies that best fit your family. Learn more about what it takes, find real answers, and hear other foster/adoptive families about their experiences.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are trained volunteers who represent and advocate for youth in the dependency court system. Each CASA represents the best interests of the child and makes a life-changing difference.

Olive Crest is a foster organization based on Judeo-Christian principles, dedicated to preventing child abuse, to treating and educating at-risk children and to preserving the family one life at a time.

Later this month, St. Andrew parish in Pasadena will be the first parish in the Archdiocese to launch Safe Families. 

The program is an innovative collaboration between area churches, volunteers and childcare professionals to support at-risk children and parents in need — with the goal of keeping children out of foster care. 

The parish community would support a family in crisis, whether the parents are facing sickness, hospital stays, homelessness, job loss, jail time, drug addiction or another crisis. Trained families from the parish would welcome children under 18 years old into their homes free for as long as the family needs. The average length of stay is about six weeks, and the biological family maintains parental rights. 

“Most of us have someone that we can turn to in crisis. For families that don’t have support, Safe Families can be that support,” said Domingo. “The best part is, nationally, 98 percent of children helped by Safe Families never enter the foster care system.”