May 16, 2021

by: L. Walker Van Antwerp III

LA5 Rotary Club’s Children’s Court Committee is dedicated to serving foster kids. But let’s start at the beginning: where do foster kids come from?

The Department of Children and Family Services is charged with the difficult task of deciding when a child is no longer appropriately left with their parents. This is usually a temporary decision at first, and a lot of effort is put into getting parents and children reunited, but it occasionally is, or becomes, permanent. The basis of removing children to the foster care program is usually neglect, abuse, or the parent’s incapacity, such as drug addiction or incarceration.

In the old days, courts that handled decisions surrounding foster children in general courthouses that may also have had civil and criminal courts. In 1992, those courts were moved to a single-purpose courthouse, the Edmund D. Edelman’s Children’s Court, located next to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Monterey Park.

LA5 Rotary started Shelter Care at the Children’s Court, which is a segregated child care and entertainment facility, so that the foster children are not waiting in the hallway with the parents, although Shelter Care also provides a safe space for visits after court. There at the beginning were two still-active members, Nancy Howard and Chris Campbell.

In about 2005, with Shelter Care up and running, the Children’s Court Committee turned to providing grants to foster children, for enrichment programs that are not funded by DCFS or the Children’s Court, such as gymnastics, cheer, sports teams, and science camps. The grant applications are prepared by social workers, on request of the foster parents, or the foster children themselves. Some projects are more general, such as the celebration of National Adoption Day, celebration of the foster kids who graduate high school, and Topsail, taking foster kids out for the day on a tall ship.

If you’re interested in participating, let me know! Email me at [email protected], subject “LA5 Rotary, Children’s Court Committee”.

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