Korean American Family Services (KFAM) became the first non-profit organization in Los Angeles that focuses on connecting Asian American foster families with Asian American children and youth to become a state licensed Foster Family Agency (FFA), the organization announced on Tuesday.

Though there are some 120 licensed Foster Family Agencies (FFA) in Los Angeles County, all of them only provide services in English, with KFAM being the only one that provides in-language services.

“KFAM plans to be a ‘one-stop’ service provider, recruiting and educating Korean foster families in Korean, and connecting foster children with foster families,” said KFAM.

Foster Family Agencies are non-profit organizations that are licensed by the state to recruit, certify, train, provide support, and find homes or other placements for children, according to the California Department of Social Services.

Prior to KFAM becoming a licensed FFA itself, Korean and other Asian ethnic families received training in-language from KFAM and went on to finish the last stages of becoming certified foster families through different agencies. Now that KFAM has become a licensed FFA, these families will now not only be able to go through the entire process through KFAM alone, but also continue to receive services and support from KFAM thereafter.

“Through the widespread support and interest of the Korean community in the Korean Foster Family Initiative we began in 2014, that interest expanded to the greater Asian community beginning with the Chinese community in 2015, and now, we’ve even become a licensed Foster Family Agency,” said KFAM’s executive director Connie Chung Joe.

According to Chung Joe, finding Asian American foster families for Asian American children through the LA County’s Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) was often a difficult process. She expressed hopes that, as KFAM is now a licensed FFA, the process will become easier for both the children and families.

KFAM plans to continue forming partnerships with other Asian ethnic organizations and spread awareness of KFAM’s Asian Foster Family Initiative to the Chinese, Filipino, and Cambodian communities as well.

More than 34,000 children are currently living under the protection of LA DCFS as of late April this year, the organization said, and more than 600 of them are Asian. KFAM estimates some 40 to 60 of them are Korean.

Since KFAM began its Asian Foster Family Initiative, 33 Korean and other Asian ethnic families have become certified foster families, and these families have offered 41 placements as of early May. Some have offered their homes to children for as short as three weeks, and others as long as almost three years, the organization said.

KFAM will be hosting a seminar on its Asian Foster Family Initiative at Oriental Mission Church on May 20 from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The free seminar, which will explain the process to become certified foster families, will be in both Korean and English, and childcare will be provided.