PALMDALE – Are you a local foster or adoptive parent? Are you interested in the process, but need to know more information to get started? If so, then a newly formed support group may be just what you’re looking for.
Antelope Valley Foster Assistant Support Team (AVFAST), an independent support group for foster and adoptive parents, is holding its first meeting at 10 a.m., Thursday at Hometown Buffet in Palmdale.
AVFAST is the brainchild of long time foster/adoptive parent and advocate Raynard Vincent Price.
“I accepted this opportunity at the request of foster parents in the Antelope Valley to provide a voice and support to those involved in foster care and adoption,” said Price. “This is particularly important as the decline in experienced foster homes continue to rise around the County. This decline may be as a result of foster parents aging out or retiring or whose homes have been placed on Hold or Do Not Use.”
Price, a former president of the High Desert Foster Family Association, explains AVFAST first took shape in a classroom at Antelope Valley College.
“I actually came up with the concept and the idea while attending a foster parent training class at AV College,” said Price. “The foster parents [in the class] insisted that we create a new association that didn’t have any ties to county or state or national foster parent associations… we will be unique to the Antelope Valley.”
Price says AVFAST does not require its members to be in “good standing” unlike traditional foster care associations.
“We don’t care about your standing,” said Price. “Even though your house might have been placed on hold, or you are retired from foster care, we believe that anybody who ever was a foster parent will have something to offer newer foster parents.”
Price said his home has been placed on hold by his own request, allowing him to better advocate for the foster community “without the fear of retaliation or smearing.”
Price said services provided by AVFAST will include:
- Helping foster parents resolve allegations and showing them how to prevent new allegations,
- Advocating for foster parents who are having problems with state licensing or foster family agencies, and
- Providing advocacy and support services for foster youth.
“That includes making sure that they’re getting independent living services that the county promises, but don’t always deliver,” Price said. “And we want to make sure our foster parents know about new laws and are educated on DCFS [Department of Child and Family Services].”
Price said the group already has about 20 members and are looking for more members.
“We will welcome anybody who is in the fostering community, anybody who wants to assist foster parents,” Price said.
The group will also be welcoming guest speakers from the community (including firemen, sheriff’s deputies, social workers, teachers, principals, advocates, and lawyers) to future meetings.
The inaugural meeting for the Antelope Valley Foster Assistant Support Team takes place at 10 a.m., Thursday at Hometown Buffet located at 422 West Avenue P in Palmdale. Contact Raynard Vincent Price 661.947.2251 for more information.
Price is a Palmdale resident and foster parent of 18 years, fostering a total of 26 youth from San Diego, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. He adopted seven youths, consisting of three sets of brothers. He serves on the Advisory Board of Fostering Families Today, and has written several articles and provided workshops to other Foster Parents.
AVFAST will serve the Antelope Valley and will not be associated with Los Angeles County, State or National Foster Parent associations. Former foster youth and adult foster youth are encouraged to attend.