By Ziyue Yan
After months of criticism of Los Angeles County’s use of a makeshift dormitory to house older adolescents entering foster care, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will be opening a new facility for those youth on April 10.
“The Youth Welcome Center follows the successful path we established with the Children’s Welcome Center in 2012,” said DCFS Director Philip Browning in a press release. “Skilled social workers will make the displaced youth feel safe and comfortable, while onsite team members seek appropriate and timely placements for the youth.
In November 2012, the Department opened its first welcome center for children less than 12-years-old.
The Children’s Center can accommodate about 15 children staying overnight. And approximately 3,600 children have waited at the center in the past year, according to DCFS.
Overstay has been the biggest problem in regards to older youth. Legally, children cannot be kept in waiting centers longer than 23 hours because they are not designed or certified as long-term housing. A dearth of foster care placements has exacerbated the problem, forcing the Department to scramble when trying to find suitable placements.
“The biggest challenge is having enough foster homes for infants, sibling groups and special needs children,” said Armand Montiel, public affairs director of DCFS.
The Youth Welcome Center will house an “Accelerated Placement Team” to scour available placements for the adolescents who come through its doors.
Ziyue Yan is a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. She wrote this story while taking the Media for Social Change course.