What does Agape Villages Foster Family Agency do? Agape Villages is a local foster family agency, and we service 14 counties throughout California, with corporate offices in San Ramon. We have a large presence in the Tri-Valley, Central Valley, and Sacramento. We recruit, train, and certify people who come to us and want to take in kids who have been removed from their biological homes. Unfortunately, there are over 60,000 kids in foster care in California alone. At Agape, we aim to heal the whole child with the programs we provide, and eventually reunite them with their biological parents, which is always the goal.
What are some of the reasons a child may need to be temporarily placed in foster care? Most of the time it is due to abuse, neglect, and/ or drug/alcohol problems in the home. A large majority of the cases are identified at school and are then called into the Department of Children and Family Health who then go out to the home for a welfare check. DCF then determines if the child should be removed from the home and placed in foster care for their own safety and well-being.
Is Agape Villages recruiting foster parents and how long does it take to get certified? Yes! We are constantly recruiting foster parents. Last year we turned down over 500 kids due to a lack of foster homes. It’s not just Agape, most all agencies cannot find enough foster parents. It only takes about 6 weeks to be fully certified to take in a child. The process includes a background check, TB test, home safety evaluation, and CPR certification as well as some classes.
What are some of the programs that Agape offers to its parents and foster kids? A master’s level social worker is assigned to each foster child. They visit each child once per week, develop a plan for that child based on their specific needs. A typical “needs and services” plan could include the following:
Counseling: Many kids come to us with severe emotional and psychological issues
Enrichment: This program lets our kids participate in extracurricular activities such as playing a sport, taking a music/ dance class, etc.
Independent Living Skills (for teens): Teaches the kids how to live successful lives outside the foster care system. It provides nutrition/finance/legal classes, Resume writing/job placement, SAT classes, Junior college tours, and much more.
Girls Group: We have a teen girl’s group that meets once a month. This group really gives the kids a chance to bond with each other, share stories, struggles, and it also lets them know they are not alone and that there are other kids out there in foster care who share their same feelings. The girls venture out and do fun things like movies, mini golf, amusement parks, museums, and much more. The girls share a great bond and have improved self-esteem because of this group.
What do you wish people knew about the experience of being a foster child? What can society do to make things better for these children? I think the kids always say that they just want to be accepted and treated like the other kids, especially at school. They certainly don’t want to be known as “the foster kid” in classes and in their neighborhoods. I think we can teach our kids to be more kind and accepting of everyone, no matter their background or childhood experiences.
How does Agape raise funds for the critical foster care programs? We have 3 major events every year. May is foster care awareness month and we have a big campaign rolling out to raise 100k! One thing we are doing is asking local realtors to contribute $500 from each home sold in the month of May. We think this is a great opportunity for realtors to make a huge difference in the lives of local foster kids. We also have a fall fundraiser and a combo event with another non-profit in December. We honestly can never raise enough! For more information, please contact me. Jennifer Oxe, Community Engagement Director, Tri- Valley (firstname.lastname@example.org OR 408-930-9951) Thank you!
By Jennifer Oxe, Community Engagement Director, Tri-Valley