Editor's Note: We are re-publishing this article written by Michelle K. Wolf for the Jewish Journal in hopes that we can help spread the word and find this boy a family.
Yesterday, a friend of a friend posted about a sad local situation on Facebook: A 13-year-old Jewish boy with high-functioning autism is in foster care as a ward of the Court after the tragic loss of all of his family members over the last 2 years, most recently his mother who died of complications from breast cancer the day before Thanksgiving. He has no living family members, and grew up in a Jewish-affiliated, kosher home. He is enrolled in a special education Nonpublic School in the San Fernando Valley, and that school has offered to continue his education at no cost.
Danielle Kitzes found out about his situation through a private Mom's online support group, and has been making many calls and using social media to get out his story, and many wonderful people in government agencies and Jewish-affiliated nonprofits are working hard to find this teen a stable, loving Jewish home environment, as he has already been in two different foster placements that don't meet his needs.The County's Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is urgently looking for interested families to meet with the social worker and the social worker's supervisor in the month of February to learn more about this boy, and can have the chance to meet him as part of a belated birthday gathering and if there's a good match, the family may be able to continue to meet with him or take him on outings while in the process of becoming foster certified. The County social worker assigned to his case is available and happy to speak to prospective foster parents. Those interested in becoming foster parents for this teen can send an email directly to Danielle at DmoniqueG@gmail.com and she will forward that information to the County social worker.
Danielle told me that unfortunately, Vista del Mar Family and Child Services doesn't currently have any foster-certified Jewish home available to take him in, but very much wants to assist in helping interested parents to obtain foster certification. There are several foster certification requirements and it can take several months until the process is complete. One of the requirements is to attend a foster orientation session at Vista del Mar next Thursday, February 5th, 6-8 pm in their Foster and Adoption building on their campus, located at 3200 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Any interested parent(s)/families should RSVP to Celia Guo at Vista del Mar at 310-836-1223 or at CeliaGuo@VistadelMar.org to obtain the registration form for next week's Orientation.
I know from my past professional work in the community that there are sadly enough, many Jewish children and teens in the Los Angeles County foster system that are in need of a loving, long-term foster home, and there's simply not enough certified Jewish homes, so if this is something you have been thinking about, now is the time for action. Foster parents must be over 21 and meet different requirements, but do not have to be married, homeowners, wealthy, or of any particular race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I can't think of a bigger mitzvah, especially as we usher in Jewish Disability and Awareness Month for February.
Thanks Danielle, for sharing this situation with me and with the community, and for working so hard to find a solution for this boy, and for other children like him who have special needs and need foster parents with open hearts.