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Reorganization of Foster Care

November 15, 1998

* Re "Foster Care System Begins Overhaul," Nov. 10: I wish my re- sponse to your article on the Department of Children and Family Services' "new era" of foster care could be more enthusiastic. The principles of "Family to Family" are sound, the values are right on target and there's no question that we need a steady infusion of creativity and energy into the difficult work of child protection. If DCFS officials and their many community partners are able to move forward with this in the light of thoughtful consideration of exactly where we want to go and what the best and most practical sequence of steps to get there is, it is likely that we can better serve a significant number of children and families.

Unfortunately, unreasonably optimistic time frames, previously unfulfilled promises about more social workers to reduce overwhelming caseloads and an overly ambitious commitment to find, train and retain a huge influx of new foster parents tarnish the whole endeavor with a lack of credibility. Furthermore, discounting the many private agencies and current foster parents who provide a wealth of services to the most vulnerable children in the county as irrelevant and unnecessary to the system undermines the kind of public-private partnership on which the Family to Family effort depends.

We need to support and encourage this effort for what it is, while at the same time ensuring that we foster and maintain as many other appropriate tools as possible.

LINDA LEWIS

Executive Director

Assn. of Children's Services Agencies, Los Angeles

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