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State to Abolish Oxnard Minority Adoption Program

October 15, 1987|MEG SULLIVAN | Times Staff Writer

An Oxnard-based program that recruits minority foster and adoptive parents for minority children will close at the end of the month.

Closure of the nonprofit Plaza Family Support Center will leave 13 Hispanic families, many of whom speak no English, without advocates in an adoption process that can prove daunting even for English-speaking families, said Geraldine Zapata, director of the Oxnard agency's parent organization in Los Angeles.

"It's a terrible tragedy," she said. "there will be no one in the county that will take up the cause of this sort of child."

The Plaza Family Support Center and five similar organizations statewide are being closed because they have proven expensive and inefficient, said Loren Suter, deputy director of the state Department of Social Services.

According to state records, Plaza did not recruit a single adoptive or foster parent in its first year of operation. Plaza claims that it has recruited 13 minority families who are awaiting adoptive children. Zapata said she will appeal to the state for a reversal of its decision to close Plaza. The task of recruiting minority families will meanwhile shift to churches and counties, and $600,000 appropriated for Plaza and the five other organizations will be spent on media campaigns.

But Ventura County officials balk at an increase in responsibilities without an increase in funding.

"It's not that easy," said James Isom, director of the Public Social Services Agency of Ventura County. "To close something that recruits even a few minorities will have a serious impact on us."

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