<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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Fostering the most vital safety net: the problems, and potential fixes, of L.A.’s foster care system

Lola Bell entered California's foster care system at age 2.
Lola Bell entered California's foster care system at age 2.
Courtesy: Alliance for Children's Rights

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Too many children too easily fall through the cracks of society—unwanted or uncared for by parents who are either unwilling or unable to provide care. Foster youths are among the most vulnerable members of society and arguably the most in need of a solid social safety net. And while controversial deaths of children in L.A. County’s foster care system get publicity, thousands of foster youths each year find themselves without shelter, an education or job prospects and many of them are left to their own devices once they turn 18. Los Angeles, with the highest number of kids in foster care in the country, had 22,291 children in the foster care system in 2008, which actually shows years of progress in reducing the numbers. Even as the number of kids in the system comes down, these youths find themselves facing long odds at success: less than 4% of children in the foster care system nationwide graduate from a 4-year college. This is the first part of a series of segments where Patt talks to current and former foster youth in-and-out of L.A.'s massive foster care system and the policy makers who are feverishly working to provide the best possible safety net.

Hear stories from former foster care youth


Andrew Bridge, director of Child Welfare Initiative in Los Angeles, former foster youth (age 7 – 18), author of Hopes Boy (memoir about his experience in foster care), former Executive Director of the Alliance for Children’s Rights, former Fulbright Scholar, and graduate of Harvard Law School. David Ambroz, Executive Director of the Los Angeles City College Foundation, member of the California Child Welfare Council and a former foster youth. Leslie Heimov, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center, Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist, appointed to Child Welfare Counsel. Trayvon Walker, foster reform advocate and former foster youth Janis Spire, Chief Executive Officer, The Alliance for Children’s Rights Laura Faer, Directing Attorney, Children’s Rights Project, Public Counsel Daniel Heimpel, Director, Fostering Media Connections and freelance journalist. He has covered foster care for the LA Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle and Newsweek. George White, foster youth Lola Bell, Zaneta Bell, Shimia Gray, Clarence Wade, Avery Bankston, former foster youths