Letters to the Editor: Foster kids in hotels? California needs to bring back group homes now

Ornate hotel entry with a lighted chandelier and marble floor.
Hundreds of L.A. County foster youth have been housed at hotels such as the Biltmore, above, when there are no foster families available.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles)

To the editor: Undeniably, L.A. County is between a rock and hard place when caring for our foster youth with acute mental health needs. To be clear, this isn’t the majority of our kids, but it’s a growing number. (“Violence and ‘crisis’: How hundreds of L.A. County’s abused children ended up in hotels,” May 28)

Changes to state law have tied counties’ hands. As we move away from institutional care, we’re required to rely on families willing to step forward to care for our most troubled youth. This isn’t a realistic expectation.

Our children deserve specialized care from trained professionals that can facilitate healing in a safe environment. It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and fast track the development of licensed secure foster care sites. We have one such site to serve our entire county.


I’m invested in crafting a long-term plan, and that’s going to take collaboration with multiple entities, including the state, to get it done properly and quickly.

Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.


To the editor: As a former chief executive of one of the county’s largest private child welfare nonprofits, I can only say “we told you so” in response to your article about foster kids being housed in hotels. Believe me, I am not happy to say this.

Back in 2015, when the new state law on foster care was being discussed, those of us who had been providing both group home and foster family care banded together in opposition. We told the state that there was already a shortage of foster homes, and eliminating so many group home beds would only exacerbate the problem.

Many children who would otherwise be in group homes cannot handle the less structured and less supervised environment of a foster home. Many of our clients themselves told us that group homes were best for them.


Now we are seeing the results, and they are not as promising as some of the politicians and advocates would have us believe.

Sil Orlando, Rancho Palos Verdes