GLENDALE–Community leaders across various professions, encompassing the fields of social services, mental health, religion, and the non-profit sector, gathered at the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of the Western USA’s Regional Headquarters on June 18, 2013, upon the invitation of the ARS Regional Executive Board, to address issues and concerns with regards to Armenian children currently in the foster care system in Los Angeles County.
In her opening remarks, Lena Bozoyan, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson, stated, “Regardless if there are ten, hundreds, or thousands of Armenian children in the foster care system, the welfare of each single Armenian child remains an utmost priority for the ARS and we have called you all here today in order to collectively discuss and plan a series of strategies to raise awareness on the topic of foster care and foster care parent recruitment.”
Thereafter, Helen Berberian, Executive Assistant to the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), addressed guests. Accompanying Berberian at the meeting were DCFS administrators, Sari Grant, Adoption Services, Foster Care Recruitment; Angela Karimyan, Adoption Services, Diligent Recruitment Grant; Armand Montiel, Director of Public Affairs; and Diane Wagner, Division Chief, Adoption and Permanency Resources.
Berberian explained that the information regarding thousands of Armenian children being in the foster care system is not an accurate depiction. Rather, that figure is one that represents years of cumulative data that included not only the names of children, but also parents. As of May 31, 2013, the number of children in the Statewide Child Welfare Services/Case Management System, who were coded to be of Armenian ethnicity and/or speaking the Armenian language, was 91 children. These children fall within the continuum of all phases of child protective service delivery, including initial investigations; family maintenance (under supervision in their birth homes); family reunification (placed outside their birth homes, either with grandparents, relatives or in licensed foster care); or permanency planning (legal guardianship or adoptions).
Thereafter, the need to plan a series of prevention and intervention strategies regarding child abuse/neglect education and foster care recruitment was discussed. Following the meeting, demographic and placement analysis of the 91 children under department supervision as of May 2013 was received from DCFS, as follows:
Of the 91 Armenian children:
45 children (49%) are male and 46 children (51%) are female;
54 of the 91 children (60%) remain under departmental supervision in the home of their birth parents;
37 of the 91 children (40%) are under department supervision placed outside of their birth homes;
21 of these 37 children (58%) are under supervision in the homes of relatives
There are 11 sibling sets, ranging from 2-6 children in each;
75 of the 91 children (83%) are under supervision are either in the home of their birth parent or the homes of relatives. The remaining 16 children (17%) are under supervision placed in licensed out-of-home care facilities.
The ARS of Western USA looks forward to facilitating community outreach and education and remains hopeful that this community meeting set the groundwork to inform and educate our communities about child safety, as well as the positive impacts it would have for Armenian families to consider becoming foster, adoptive, or resource parents.
The ARS of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 27 chapters and more than 1,500 members in five western states. The ARS-WUSA operates a Social Services Division, a Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For further information, please visit www.arswestusa.org or call 818-500-1343.