Lynn restaurant group promoting foster care

April 11, 2011 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

Lynn Restaurant Association and Lynn Community Connections members display the place mats promoting foster care for needy children, on Friday. Front row, from left, Tom Dill, Lazy Dog, Evalynn So, Lynn Community Connections, Dolores DiFillipo, Owner of Brick Yard, Rafael Subero, President of Lynn Restaurant Association. Back row, from left, Rocky DiFillipo, V.P., Lynn Restaurant Association, Tony DiFillippo, owner of Brick-Yard Bar and Grill, Pam Freeman, Director of Community Connections, and Dennis Liberge, F.I.S.A.H.O. (Item Photo / Owen O’Rourke)

LYNN – The Lynn Restaurant Association is teaming up with Lynn Community Connections Coalition to raise awareness about the need for foster families — one place mat at a time.

Rafael Subero, president of the association, spent much of Friday driving from restaurant to restaurant dropping off stacks of place mats created by LCCC and designed to get people at least thinking about becoming foster parents.

LCCC is one of 22 coalitions across the state that is federally funded through the Department of Children and Families. Its mission is to strengthen family support systems in neighborhoods throughout the city to prevent child abuse and neglect. And that includes finding foster families, which LCCC Director Pamela Freeman said are very much needed in the city.

“I’ll tell you why there’s been a drop,” she said. “Because you have to pass a CORI.”

CORIs, or Criminal Offender Record Information, are background checks run on just about anyone that comes in contact with children such as teachers, coaches, daycare providers, councilors and foster families.

Freeman said there might be something in someone’s past that would be flagged during a CORI check or there might be someone else living in the home that would fail to pass a check. Sometimes, she said, it’s a matter that people are simply afraid they won’t pass, so they don’t try.

And she admitted, “A lot of people can’t pass a CORI.”

Which is why LCCC is beating the bushes for new families to step up and take in a child in need.

According to the Foster Club, a national online network for young people in the foster-care system, there were 12,197 children in foster care in the state of Massachusetts in 2005.

Freeman said there is a need for African-American, Hispanic and Asian families. And, she added, there is also a growing population of people from Laos as well as from a variety of African countries coming into the community.

“It’s been a struggle with placing those children because of the cultural differences,” Freeman said.

That is why the LCCC, she said, is making such a push to get families involved.

By teaming with the Restaurant Association, Dolores DiFillipo, a former social worker, said LCCC can reach hundreds of people with relative ease.

Freeman said she is confident the plan will be successful because she got the idea from the New Bedford CCC and it proved successful there. In May, she said, they will distribute a new stack of place mats printed in Spanish and in June they will issue mats in Khmer.

“The restaurants will use them until they run out,” she added.

Subero said he was happy to help out and distributing the place mats was an easy venture.

“It’s such a great opportunity to reach out,” DiFillipo said. “LCCC and the Restaurant Association both just want to encourage people to get involved.”

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