Sunday, October 22, 2006

Over 10,000 foster youth in Bay Area

Traveling foster care exhibit opens in Redwood City
Redwood City, 10/19/06

A new traveling exhibition seeking to raise awareness about foster children and youth in the Bay Area has just opened at a Redwood City gallery, where it will be on display until the end of the month.

The Bay Area Heart Gallery, currently showing at Studio 411 on Broadway in Redwood City, features color and black-and-white photographs of foster children of various ages currently waiting for adoptive families.

Dozens of professional photographers from throughout the Bay Area have contributed to the exhibition, a project highlighting the need for families in the Bay Area to come forward to provide permanent homes.

According to San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill, there are more than 10,000 children in the foster care system in the Bay Area, a large percentage of whom will "age out'' of the system because they have spent much of their childhood in foster care and group homes.

Heart Galleries have been effective in other areas of the country in creating permanent homes for foster youth, Hill said.

An opening reception for the Redwood City exhibit will take place today at 6 p.m. at 2625 Broadway in Redwood City.

The exhibition will move to Contra Costa and Marin counties in November.

For more information and to view the photographs, visit

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lil Kim's time in prison inspires her to help foster youth

Rapper joins DMC, John Kerry, others in D.C. to champion issue.
(October 11, 2006)

*Lil’ Kim credits her 10-month stay in federal prison for giving her the clarity to pick up foster care as her new cause.

The rapper recently attended the second annual Keeping the Promise to At-Risk Youth Conference in Washington D.C., where she joined the likes of Senator John Kerry, Princess Dalal Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run DMC in speaking about issues within the foster care system .

"It's not what happens to you, but how you handle it that matters," Lil' Kim said, according to "A lot of times, we all make bad choices, but it's the experience that helps you make the right choice the next time."

The annual one-day summit was organized by Children Uniting Nations (CUN) and the University of Southern California's School of Social Work to highlight issues within the foster care system and develop mentoring programs and other educational services for foster children and at-risk youth.

Workshop topics included the effects of mentoring on children's self-esteem, psychological impacts of the child welfare system, and racial disparities in foster care.

"During that 10-month stay in prison I realized I had to become strongly involved in the children of our future so that they would not have to endure the struggles and pain that I had to go through during the difficult times in my life," said Kim.

Karen Bass recommends additional foster care funding

Lawmaker pushes for more foster care aid
Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, October 14, 2006

A legislator leading efforts to reform California's foster care system said Friday she planned to push for higher payments for foster care families next year.

Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-L.A., made the comments after addressing a state conference of social workers and managers in Thousand Oaks.

Bass, who helped pass a package of foster care reforms in the past legislative session, told the group she looked forward to more progress when the Legislature reconvenes next year.

"It would be very easy for legislators in Sacramento to say we fixed that last year," she told hundreds of social workers attending the County Welfare Directors Association's annual conference at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza. "We cannot allow that to be the perspective."

Foster mother Pattie Hunt, who specializes in caring for medically fragile babies, welcomed the possibility that payments could go up.

"We're taking care of these kids for $16 a day," the Ventura County resident said Friday. "You can't even get child care for that."

Bass also plans to focus on care in group homes and build on reforms enacted for emancipated foster youth, those who leave the system at 18 because they have been neither adopted nor reunited with their families.

Bass, chairwoman of a select committee on foster care in the Assembly, said she hoped to form a joint committee with the Senate next year.

"It really is just the beginning," she said.

The current state budget contains an investment of $255 million to improve the lives of foster youth, said Shirley Washington, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services. Included is more than $100 million to expand a system tracking their needs and progress, she said.

Washington said the investment came as the result of bipartisan collaboration among the Schwarzenegger administration, the Legislature and others involved in foster care throughout the state.