Service provider Concilio, the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations in Philadelphia, wants to sign up more Latino families as foster and adoptive parents.

Concilio is hosting quarterly events where families can learn more about what's involved.

More than 3,000 Philadelphia children end up in foster or adoptive care every year - typically because of abuse and neglect in their homes. The majority of them are African-American and Latino.

Joanna Otero Cruz, executive director of Concilio, says children do better when their foster or adoptive home is ethnically and culturally similar to their home of origin.

"It's a big piece of culture, the language is extremely important," explained Otero Cruz. "The more they can stay the same, despite the fact that you are displacing the child, so everything -- from the hair, are they going to understand whether or not the child eats certain foods -- is really important."

The events, called "Cafecito de Ninos," are an attempt to find those culturally similar homes.

"When we get that call that we have to place a child, the better match we make up front, the better outcomes we're going to have, and the less traumatic the experience is going to be for the child," said Otero Cruz.

Concilio has had good luck hosting these quarterly meetings for interested families to meet those who already are foster or adoptive parents and have their real-world questions answered. They can find out what's involved in becoming a foster parent, and speak to case workers who oversee the care of children in foster homes.

Families can also find out about the option of offering "respite care" in their homes, taking children in on a short-term basis while a more permanent solution is found.


A "Cafecito de Ninos" meeting will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Los Tacos Restaurant, 5104 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia.