Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Caring About Our Kids

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 27, 2013

L.A. County struggles with severe shortage of foster homes,0,6981379.story



“A number of factors has exacerbated the foster bed shortage. For one, the county lacks an accurate, real-time database of foster home vacancies. The system, updated just once a month, lists the licensed capacity of a home but not the number of beds a foster parent now is willing to fill.”


This LA Times article, detailing the lack of foster homes available in LA County, hurts me deeply, as I ponder the implications. In particular, technology today has made tracking systems ubiquitous. We can track birds, flowers, stocks, and weather, but knowing the number of available foster beds, seems beyond our capacity. This, to me, seems like evidence of LA County’s priorities, of which our children, are not included. The system is large, but keeps failing. Yes, we do not hear about the successes, so perhaps I am being too harsh. Yet, taken together with my previous post,, the data mounts to suggest that LA County prioritizes other County services, at the expense of the welfare of our children. Perhaps political dollars do not float towards foster care, since these children, even when they grow up, do not present a major voting force. Advocacy is needed, as so many of these children will have mental health needs which will overwhelm the healthcare system. The more we can do to mitigate the trauma these children have already experienced, the more we can help to have a stronger society. Instead, we layer trauma over trauma for these children, leading to over-medication, and a life path which is dark and destructive. Children who require foster care deserve better. They are victims of being brought into  a world which betrays them. Then, our County warehouses them, furthering their feeling of abandonment, making an understandable feeling of deep hopelessness. How can such an affluent city let these children down? I am ashamed.

6 Responses to “Caring About Our Kids”

  1. Jon said

    It is indeed a matter of priorities. That the lack of foster care is due to the lack of a reasonable tracking system in this day and technological age is a hiccup at best and a sickness at worst. Protagoras saw deeply when he stated almost two and a half millennia ago, “man is the measure of all things”. By this statement, and your observation, sadly, young men and women lag behind birds, flowers, stocks, and the weather. You justifiably feel ashamed, and this is the shame for a people with misplaced priorities. Hopefully, this is the shame of a hiccup, not of a self-induced mental sickness.

  2. Shelly said

    What’s your solution to the crisis, Shirah? More manpower to fill in the gaps? More available foster homes? Better foster homes? Better training for foster parents? More parenting classes for parents so foster parenting isn’t needed? More volunteers? I imagine that the system is overworked–more demand than supply. If there was more prestige and money involved in paying those who work the system, perhaps more people would be willing to go into these positions (social service).

    • Yes, the system is broken and needs fixing in a “big-picture” kind of way. Putting a tracking system is a baby step, which can so easily be done, given our current state of technology. My point is that it is shameful that this has not been implemented yet. In terms of fixing the system in a broader way, yes more money would enable more trained and sophisticated professionals to maintain more sophisticated foster families. Money is not the only answer, but it would sure help. Thanks.

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