Jim Cooper's Orange County; Wanted: Foster Parents!
Need for about 200 more foster care homes in Orange County. Start here at the Albert Sutton home for dependent children. More than 2000 children are brought here each year often by police officers. The children have done nothing wrong instead they've been victims of physical or sexual abuse or neglect exploitation or abandonment. Their ages are from newborn infants to 18 year old. Many will go back to their homes or to relatives or group homes but fully a third will hopefully be placed in the loving care of some 700 foster homes in Orange County. But they aren't enough. Some 200 more foster homes are critically needed to give a warm caring home environment particularly for the many babies and toddlers being kept here. I'm Jim Cooper and I look into that problem today. This is the infant's wing of Albert second home. Babies sometimes abandoned and only a few
hours old are brought here at the first stop in the county's emergency care system for children who are victims of abuse. Some already have drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms because of the mother's addiction. On any given day there may be as many as 200 children here while the legal and social services system works just determination each day than it was seven and a half million dollar Orne when home is struck to just next door with a new and better facility. But the need for a foster parent to love and care will continue as long as the sadness of child abuse and neglect stemming. Placement of infants like these and foster home is the most difficult because most foster parents want older children. One county however has thousands of people who want to fight against the cycle of child abuse and frown upon one of the volunteers here if you donated 500 hours this year giving the care to toddlers she transfers twice each day by bus to come here on a regular volunteer day. There are about 25 partners here on any given day.
Like all children they like to play for the love. And there are about 15 hundred children somewhere in the whole system of social services care 40 percent will go back to parents with rehabilitation support a third will go to foster homes 25 percent will go to relatives or group care homes. Five percent will be placed up for adoption. Bill Steiner has been director of Alberts at the home for the past six years. You process something like 2000 children a year here. How important are foster homes in your whole operation. Well Jim they're tremendously important to us because we'd be terribly overcrowded here for it weren't for families to take our children or a temporary shelter where children are here for a few days to a few weeks. And we need foster families to take our children so that we don't become overcrowded and so we can receive other children also. These children been through so much trauma in their lives they need us a family that will give them the love and care and nurturing and stability that they've not experienced in a foster family's best prepared to do that when these
kids can't return to their own families. Some people are timid about coming forth and being foster parents. What would you say to those people. Crowd there's a real payoff to being a foster parent it's a tremendously rewarding and they're not alone in this. This task we provide a lot of support for them there's a lot of orientation and training and we're partners with them every step of the way and taking care of these kids. Foster parents come in all sizes neighborhoods and cultural and racial backgrounds. This is the home of Anthony and Shannon Barrett in Anaheim You know and he's an architect. He also plays blocks and shares in many other fatherly fun activities with those two happy boys. Benjamin 4 and Donald secure until they were forced to children in the first three years ago then are now under the couple's legal guardianship. Also what the table is a 3 year old foster child whom we'll call Susie to protect confidentiality. The Orange County now has 700 foster homes including about 25 a black foster parents. About 80 Hispanic and 100
Indochinese came but more foster parents are also needed in all ethnic groups. That's fun working with your dad Mr. Barrett. What motivated you to become a foster parent. I think primarily it was the need for children. There are so many children that don't have homes and facilities. That are available are overcrowded. And we had always wanted young ones. And this was a first step for us. You you had these youngsters in your home right and you know home now for three years what is it brought to you and your wife now. Family you know. Being married with my wife is great but having the children makes it all the better. Shannon Barrett is very busy enjoying the couple's fourth child in the family a nine month old girl who will call Michelle again for confidentiality. The parents received her as a foster child when she was only 1 month old.
How do you feel about the role of foster parent. Why I feel very strongly in our around the right thing. Program during my commute for I enjoy reading how many my strong point but the thing you are going to brought to your family. Oh so many things going to increase love from the mom in the family planning some foster parents want only answer top the deadly exception rather than the rule. The county provides fees of two hundred thirty eight dollars per month for children under six and four hundred twenty nine a month for those over 13 for no more than six children may be placed in any one home. Sometimes the fees do not even pay for all the food and clothing or toys. Love of children seems to be the biggest motivating reward for foster parents. Carol knew it and her husband of Newport Beach had been foster parents for 16 years. They've had 62 foster babies who have
received their love and care for periods of from three days up to two years. In addition the couple has five children by birth and one adopted daughter. She says her own enjoyment in giving a loving home to victimize children is her biggest reward. Carol that's an extraordinary record with 62 foster children over 16 years. Why do you take these babies. They bought a lot of revenue into our home. Nice to hear. I think it's wonderful to have a being at that important time in their life and they couldn't do it because they want to quit I'd be missing a doctor for the rewards right there a lot of people are apprehensive about taking a new baby a little baby like that and starting out and yet that's where the
need is or the need for a lot more from the aunts who are willing to take a little baby what would you say to the people who are a little concerned a little anxious about not doing for. Time you know. The Crown Court and the final everyone before I will defend for our defense for. The Children's Home Society of Orange County also helps in finding loving homes for victimize children. The home of Rod and Libby green in Mission Viejo is a good example. They have a different program it's called the fathers adopt plan. Under this effort children are placed in the Fathers adopt homes with a clear intention of having the foster parents eventually complete the adoption of the children. This is the very act the family of the green
whether children by birth and the pre adoptive children find equal caring in the home. John and Delilah ages 10 0 9 have been hard to adopt children at this home since May 3rd. They will soon be legally adopted children of the family. Tadi 11 and James 12 are the couple. Children by birth. Everyone in the family shares in the fun but they all have equal George the new crew. I ask them what they would say to any couple considering the fun of the program who may be apprehensive about such a big commitment. I think one of the things that let people know is that it's natural to be apprehensive it is a big commitment and I know at times we said to ourselves what are we getting into why are we doing it. But when we realize that that's a natural process that people go through and it'll take some time to get used to especially older children but it's so rewarding. These kids. Are just very very delightful children. They've been through an awful lot. They've they're real survivors and we've just really enjoyed having them join your home and one of the things that's been
very helpful is the fact that Children's Home Society does offer a tremendous amount of education when you parent. We have two older boys. As in when you parent your own children the process of parenting adopted children is different and they help us go through that process and and learn what the shoes are how they're different and how to respond to the Father the program of the children are literally a part of your family now and will eventually be your adopted children. How well does that work with your own children. Your natural children. It seems like it's just been so natural the new in the very beginning that we were going to expand the family. We involve them in the process from the very beginning in terms of talking about it they were involved in the whole home study and at this point in time it seems as if they've been together forever because they fight like cats and dogs at times and love each other at times and it's just it's been a very very good experience for them. Like you're describing a family. That's right and we're kind of surprised it's happened so quickly.
And after that visit there's some very remarkable foster parents not going to visit with our special guest here in the studio. As far a foster home development coordinator for the social services agency she's worked with services for foster children for secures and also has been a coordinator for volunteer services. Carol that is program manager of social services for the Children's Home Society of Orange County. She holds a master's degree in social work and has been working in the field of social services for 20 years and in the Children's Home Society for the past six years. Lesson Tamra Watts and there are foster parents living in the going in the gallery. They've been foster parents for more than four years and have had 10 foster children live with them during that time. They also have three girls of their own ages 14 and two. Foster care activities are their number one hobby DeMars a homemaker and Leslie has a hydraulic service repairmen. Rest sits on the board of directors of the foster parent association of Orange County and Tamra is on the membership committee. They were instrumental in helping to start a foster parent support group for South Orange
County and helped other foster parents in North Orange County to form a group of their own. I think I'd like to start with you too because you're a unique people in my judgment. You are people who have elected to have children into your family rather than wait for and point nature to provide them for you. What is the biggest nor the voting reason for you to making that decision unless you want to start with. We. Would like be able to help the kids provide some help for the children. In addition to your children by birth right. And has it all worked out that way for you. Have helped some. We know what we can see the trees you see we've done some good for some it gives us a nice feeling and it is good that makes it worthwhile. Hammer what about you. Well always enjoy being with children and I don't really remember when I heard first heard about foster care but something we had discussed for a long time and when the right time carrying. We said let's go for it. And
we really have enjoyed it. It's been stressful and there's some problems but in the long range It really has been worthwhile. We really enjoy it. It's taught a lot of our children who have learned a lot from it. And we enjoy doing it very much. When you talked about when you and talk about that to friends or people who you're just meeting. One of the question that you're more frequently asked about your role as props to parents. But if people ask you more thought. Why. And that's the answer why. What about the question of when you when it comes time for the cross the children to leave you. I understand the average stay is 31 months. What happens when the time comes that they leave you and and that they come. That's the hardest thing I think giving up a tile that had lived with you for such a long time becomes part of your family. And. Some of them are easier to give up than others. But there are most of them you really hate. To have to go.
In our first one with the most difficult I think and it was one of the ladies that talked to the one in Newport Beach. I asked that question and she said I would have been denying myself a great treasure had I not done this. In other words you would be shutting off. A lot of joy that's come in your life if you. Do not. Take this. Right to Life a commitment I guess there's a commitment that you have to know that the children are not yours to begin with that they will will not stay with you and you have to be willing to give them the love when they're with you and be able to. Let them go. It's here so when we're listening to this program right now I think I kind of think I'd like to do it but I'm really not sure what kind of advice would you give to those people. The orientation. And find out about more about it their support system is that it isn't just being left out there. You get a support system when you when you get the commitment. Yes. They come to our support group to attend the support group to have an organization I think talk with a little bit later but first I like that. Barbara what's the biggest thing you like to get the people I know you have the job Barber of being a recruiter I think if we think of a recruiter like for the Marine Corps I think people but you are a foster
parent recruiter and what does that mean. Well it means it's my job to try to find enough foster parents. To serve the needs for the entire county. There's only one person doing this job without a view. That's me and the need is so great. I hear my colleague in the next office coming down the hall and saying I don't have a single home for a two year old boy and that really pulls at my heartstrings because I feel like I want to go out somewhere and find that job that child of some parents. Tremendous a tremendous motivation that you have you have a lot of energy and I enjoy going with you and spending a day with you working and seeing what it is that you do. I really believe in what I'm doing I think in the agency where I work and see so much child abuse and dreadful things happening. I wouldn't be able to tolerate my job if I didn't also see parents like Leslie Yami who are doing this exciting thing and giving so much of themselves that it gives me faith that our society isn't going to come to him.
You know Orange County has two million people. Of the two million people many many couples want children but can't have them. That's right and this is such a nice socially good thing a beneficial thing. The picture there who have been victims of some kind of abuse and provide a home. Normal home environment Carol you've been this kind of work too with the Children's Home Society. Let's hear from you about that. What are your perceptions about this. Well I certainly agree with Barbara as to the need for families and I have just been consistently impressed with the quality of people who come forth to be foster families they really give so much rather than so much caring to the children in spite of some of the difficulties of knowing that children are going to wave and I think it's very difficult to become attached and to give your all knowing that that child is going to leave in a short period of time and yet that's the real foundation I think to bring good foster parents but I think if you look at it from the from the perspective of the child that child would be too big to get home for two or three years.
That he might not otherwise have at all then of this enormously important value. You know I think of statistics and you talk about the statistics I'd like to read from you because the report that has come from from your group I think called the child the children's registry which tries to hook up. Needed children with foster homes and it's an alarmingly large number of requests for foster homes is made for infants and toddler boys the next largest bequest from home to for infant toddler girls and they have figured like 40 out of 290 does that mean there are 290 that need them and only from 40 homes they have them because I've seen that report. You know I think that meant of the referrals that came in at that I think it or time they said the third highest number requested for male children ages 3 to 5. In other words of the great a great preponderance of need for the younger ones the toddlers. Why is that the reason for that is that children who are young and small are very vulnerable to abuse. They can't run away. You know older
kids learn when mommy or daddy is the fuse is getting really tight and they should get out of sight for a while but the littler ones can't do that as easily. And also littler children are very demanding. Maybe there are a lot of care and a lot of love and sometimes more than parents ever realize. Maybe we none of us would have had children if we would have realized how demanding children can be and the very very young mother who perhaps the boyfriends walked out on her or you know the husband has left. He's really realizing how demanding his child is and it isn't what she thought it was going to be. But I see this with this sentence their licenses are targeted for school enroll children who are five to 12 years of age. Parity that bracket that the demand is not as great for the reasons that you recited. That's true but there is still a need at that age group. It's just that more people want that age group because they're gone during the day and it's not quite so demanding. Carol what do you what you would say what your perceptions are with the father daughter program. Apparently the
Children's Home Society feels it's a very successful program. Absolutely. It allows children to move into what will be their permanent homes prior to the time that they may either be legally free for adoption or prior to the time that the family is going to court for an intro aka Tory decree of adoption if they need AP which is an assistance to adoptive parents. So it's really a facilitating mechanism to have children and permanent saying someone who's interested in adopting one of the facilitating mechanism would find the father the program very pleasurable to them. What what kind of things make a good foster parent. Family. To pick up a good profile of a good author if you have to pay a lot of patience a good sense of humor. That's great. I mean like if they have to look crazy I think I'm not and I think I get pretty busy around your place and how you have your family now and when we have today we have five. So tonight you're going to be making dinner for yourself and for less than five others. That's right a busy place how about how do you
feel about that being proper fired around the house you know that it's good we're going to want to talk about times right now. Christmas is coming up but then we just finished Thanksgiving would have in mind for the activity. No I don't make do with my three big Christmas tree that's this tomorrow we're going to bring the tree home more but. You know Tammy has the family tradition set up the tree. Although our tradition was set up that we might I think from you know if you don't think that you're going to have some fun out of this. It was always going to be a chore. You know we hear about the money let's talk about the money for just a minute. That's two hundred and thirty nine more than for a month to twenty nine point twenty nine per cent of the little ones and that if I'm tired I can just put it there and I agree with child you're allowed that much money but if people think they're going to go into the in there anymore the vacation is to get the money from it without even the.
Now not that but now if you do I think going into the money forget it. Don't do it they don't do NOT work. I mean it's just they're not. You won't get anything out of it if you don't know if it's more or less just a breakeven situation anyway and I'm not even that we get back to toys not even that Christmas time. I'm not going to get some money for the toys right. That's true yeah. Most of the kids we've had to do a job for you to say preschool have gone to preschool. But there's no extra money for that that come from that 238 and if they want to oyur the teddy bear. That cabbage doll I want what I really have to come out of it is out of Tamworth pocketbook or somebody's right. You know we talk about statistics in the sink and look at the statistics and sometimes you can look through pages and pages of statistics. But we're not just talking about statistics we're talking about living youngsters boys and girls bright young things. We took our cameras out to show some to give an example of some of the young people who are out there and who are available for a price to children for people like these children so let's take a look at some of the children.
This little boy home will call Jimmy is just four years old. Remember the foster parents for two years now he's a black and white parentage and have beautiful big eyes he loves ice cream trains and Pete said he also likes to read picture books but he also can be quite a daredevil on his big wheel try cicle sharing the same frost at home with another little boy whom we'll call Billy Billy is six months old now and he's been with his foster parents since he was 2 years 2 days old. He doesn't talk yet but when he talks and laughs a big toothless grin tells everyone that he's a pretty happy baby. Both Billy and the foster brother Jimmy will be adopted soon. This little girl we're going to call Ginger is an expert in the field of running jumping and somersaulting. She's two years old and has an ethnic background in Hispanic and Italian a passionate eater of Eminem's genuine love to rock on a rocking horse indoors or outside her foster family. Well soon adopted. Nicholas is the name we've given this 4 year old boy he
lived with a rather large family one of the three foster children in a family of seven youngsters. He has a black and white heritage and go to preschool now what you said is a lot of fun even with a family for two and a half years and counting. Chocolate ice cream. As one of his greatest pleasures. When he isn't riding on a hot cycle to see whether he might be playing ball outside or perhaps playing with the family dog or cat. These are real. These are what these statistics that we see in the cold reports are all about. What would you like to say that happens to someone who might be listening to this and that's it and feel they'd like to take that big step to become foster parents. What would happen to them. Well I think that it is an important step for anyone to take and I don't want someone to think long and hard about it. But I think there are a lot of people out there who may have been thinking about it for a long time and this may be just the thing that will tip the scale and get them to actually take some action. So I'm asking you to what would happen let's say couple Jane Doe and John Doe who say I we were going to be brought to her going to do it and they would they would call to our
licensing office and they would be sent a schedule of the upcoming orientations. I went through that they would be given some training to show what they were it's like what they're going to go through. And so they would get a lot better idea than we could give them in a few minutes here on this show. But they will get it. I think the thing we want to get across is that you're not just handed to you on a say here make out on your own not at all. We have back up I support him absolutely. There's a there's a whole staff of support. But what about your procedure because you go one step beyond in that you're brought to children with a clearly defined adoptive goal. That's right the wrong time for those people who want to call the Children's Home Society the Children's Home Society come to an adoption information meeting to hear what the procedure is there is a great deal of education as the group is mentioned in their segment of the program informed as everybody has mentioned there is tremendous support and even after you are foster parents are the kind of a network of other foster parents who get together and I am going out there
to help you. You didn't have to call and they'll be there to help you. That's a good thought but I want to give a number if anyone is interested in just getting the information about this. It's very simple if there's your telephone. All you have to do is make a phone call the foster home information 8 3 4. 2 1 6 8 that's 8 3 4 2 1 6 8 and that doesn't commit you to anything. That right vibrant that's true all you do when you call that number is simply to get some more information. Barbara when you talk to people one of the biggest reward they feel they get from this we've always said that money certainly isn't the reason for going into it that's just more or less of a rush by the money you pay into the money you have. Right. It has to be the satisfaction of helping an abused child I think that there is a greater possibility to break the cycle of abuse which keeps continuing from one generation to another because people learn how to be parents by watching the people that take care of them and this is a chance to help with a societal problem that's enormous and to really make a difference. I think that the kids who see a loving style of parenting
even if they only stay in the foster home for a short period of time at least have seen that there is another way and then when they grow up and start to take care of their children they may remember that that way was better for them. They might do it more. That's a very good answer. Tema what what would you say the biggest single reward you feel you get from them. Just watch it. Maybe it's so hostile or aggressive turn into a. Normal happy well-adjusted child. With the biggest When you hear about Carol when you talk to so many of the. Foster parents what reward you hear over and over again that they feel the payoff of helping children will pay off a bridge that hasn't been the healthiest or happiest to one that will be for them. On that note we're going to move along now but what a good but a good part of the program missive her father of the hope that many people want to get that information. Thanks for talking with us about this program and if you have any questions. Simply call that number that we gave you and that may make an enormous difference in the life of a boy or girl. I'm Jim Cooper. Thanks for
being with us.
- Jim Cooper's Orange County
- Wanted: Foster Parents!
- Producing Organization
- PBS SoCaL
- Contributing Organization
- PBS SoCal (Costa Mesa, California)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Jim Cooper and his guests look at the need for more foster homes.
- Other Description
- Jim Cooper's Orange County is a talk show featuring conversations about local politics and public affairs.
- Created Date
- Talk Show
- Copyright 1983
- Media type
- Moving Image
Director: Ratner, Harry
Guest: Labitzke, Barbara
Guest: Atkin, Carole
Guest: Watson, Les
Guest: Watson, Tamra
Host: Cooper, Jim
Interviewee: Steiner, William
Interviewee: Barrett, Anthony
Interviewee: Barrett, Shannon
Interviewee: Newett, Carol
Interviewee: Green, Lupe
Interviewee: Green, Rod
Producing Organization: PBS SoCaL
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: AACIP_1010 (AACIP 2011 Label #)
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- Chicago: “Jim Cooper's Orange County; Wanted: Foster Parents!,” 1983-12-01, PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 4, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-257d83tq.
- MLA: “Jim Cooper's Orange County; Wanted: Foster Parents!.” 1983-12-01. PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 4, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-257d83tq>.
- APA: Jim Cooper's Orange County; Wanted: Foster Parents!. Boston, MA: PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-257d83tq