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Increasing Diversity Challenges Foster Care Agency

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By Jonathan Wilson

Maggie Wilkinson is the program manager of Special Foster Care at Northern Virginia Family Service, one of the largest foster agencies in the area.

She says because of the area's booming Latino population, she's put a special focus on recruiting Spanish speaking foster parents.

"I'm not bilingual so if I'm doing a placement and the child speaks Spanish, I really lean on the parent to explain to them, you know, it's going to be okay,'" says Wilkinson.

But Wilkinson says she's looking for foster parents who can speak other languages as well.

"We do have a very few number of foster parents who speak African dialects, but that I think will be our next area of growth," she says.

Wilkinson says close to 40 percent of the children she's trying to place speak foreign languages.

But only approximately 30 percent of the foster families registered with her agency are fluent in languages other than English.

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