Utah Foster Care Foundation kicks off campaign

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WEST VALLEY CITY -- The Utah Foster Care Foundation is looking for more Latino and Hispanic families to foster children. The foundation kicked off an outreach campaign in the Salt Lake Valley Monday.

More than 600 Latino and Hispanic children need foster care homes in Utah but right now; only 65 Latino or Hispanic families are part of the program.

Ruth Gonzalez says she always wanted a big family. As a foster parent for eight years, she has helped raise 25 children of all ages.

Now, Gonzales is spreading the word about the new program aimed at attracting more Latino and Hispanic foster families.

**By the numbers: Foster Care**
• Over 513,000 American children are in foster care • In Utah, there are about 2,600 children in foster care. 26% are Latino/Hispanic • Of the 1,300 licensed foster/adoptive families in Utah, only 5% are Latino/Hispanic - *Utah Foster Care Foundation*
"The state of Utah has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to take care of kids in need, and it is a two-way street. While we certainly provide them with love, they return that love to us," Gonzalez said through a translator. The Gonzalez family added rooms to their home for more children. Right now, there are six.

Rosalia, who was with her mother Monday, was a foster child and is now adopted; so were two boys. The Gonzalez family had one son and are also hosting two foster children.

The Hispanic and Latino parents in foster care have a motto: "los niños traen vida," meaning "children bring life."

Of the 2,600 children in foster care, 26 percent are Latino and Hispanic. And of the 1,300 licensed foster and adoptive Utah families, only 5 percent are Latino or Hispanic.

"It is certainly much better for a child who is Hispanic to go into an Hispanic foster home. It helps maintain their cultural identity; keep their same customs, language, food, etcetera," said Christina LeCluyse, a recruiter for Utah Foster Care.

Members of the Utah Foster Care Foundation say they see a particular need right now for families fluent in Spanish and English.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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