Christian Bale is building a new foster care community in California that will prioritize housing foster siblings together.
On Feb. 7, the “Batman Begins” star broke ground on the village, which has reportedly been in the works for 16 years, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The Academy Award-winning actor is building the 7,000-square-foot village in the city of Palmdale, which is located about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. It will feature 12 family homes and two studio apartments, the latter of which will be used as transitional housing for foster adults who exit the foster care system.
Mr. Bale, 50, is spearheading the initiative called Together California. He’s joined by the organization’s co-founder, Dr. Eric Esrailian, who is a health sciences clinical professor of medicine at UCLA and the actor’s longtime friend. Tim McCormick, who has worked in the child welfare sector for almost two decades, according to his LinkedIn profile, serves as the organization’s executive director.
In addition to Mr. Bale’s wife, Sibi, Dr. Esrailian, and Mr. McCormick, other notable attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony included Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Palmdale’s Mayor Austin Bishop, and Brandon Nichols, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Mr. Bale largely credited Ms. Barger for helping the organization secure land in Palmdale for the development. “We met with numerous county supervisors, all wonderful and well-motivated people, but nobody could ever find a place for us until Kathryn arrived,” he explained. “She said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ She did it, and she did it quickly. We’re here now, and I can’t thank her enough.”
The foster care community is projected to cost $22 million and is expected to be completed by 2025. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Mr. Bale’s agent, Patrick Whitesell, the executive chairman of William Morris Endeavor, have also donated to the cause.
Once opened, Together California will be the first of its kind in the state of California. The village will focus on keeping siblings in the foster care system under the same roof.
Mr. Bale said the community “is something absolutely new, totally transformative, and something completely needed,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s a beautiful model, it’s incredible, and it’s amazing that it hasn’t happened before,” he told KTLA 5 News. The “American Psycho” actor revealed that he was also shocked by Los Angeles County’s substantial foster care population, something he wasn’t previously aware of.
As of December 2023, the county was home to more than 20,000 foster kids—nearly 13,000 of whom were under the age of 10, per the Department of Children and Family Services. According to the Children’s Law Center of California, most of these children have experienced neglect, abuse, or been abandoned.
As of 2021, there were nearly 400,000 children in the system in the U.S., per Start Foster Care. California had the most children, with nearly 50,000 kids in foster care, followed by Texas and Florida, which had about 28,000 and 23,500, respectively.
“Imagine the absolute pain and the trauma of losing your parents or being torn from your parents, and then losing your brothers and sisters on top of that—that’s no way to treat kids,” Mr. Bale said.
The English actor—who shares two children with his wife, a daughter, Emmeline, and a son, Joseph, per People—began conceiving the idea for the long-gestating project when his daughter was just three years old.
“She’s now in college, got a 9-year-old son,” he shared. “I couldn’t bear imagining if we weren’t around, they would have to be split up. And so when I learned that, I said, ‘alright, we’ve got to do something.'”
Mr. Bale said he hopes the village “will be the first of many.”
“I hope that people—Californians and Angelenos—know to come join us in opening our eyes to what’s happening right under our noses,” he added. “These are our children, and we must help our children.”
Bale’s Philanthropic Endeavors
Mr. Bale credited his late father, David, for spurring his interest in philanthropy at a young age.
“I grew up with a dad who was always very active and altruistic,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Mr. Bale regularly attended protests with his father, who was an environmentalist and animal rights activist, per The New York Times.
“As a kid, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I loved it, and I just admired the hell out of my dad in that way that he went out of his way to care for other people,” he continued. “We were always having other people coming and living in our house who didn’t have homes, etcetera. That’s just the guy that he was.”
His father passed away in December 2003 at the age of 62 due to brain lymphoma. He was survived by his wife—writer and activist Gloria Steinem, whom he’d married just three years earlier—his son and his three daughters, Louise, Sharon, and Erin.
From The Epoch Times