Fostering a Lifetime of Success

November 25, 2018

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Paige, the youngest and newest board member of the Sonoma County Children’s Village. Paige’s story is a testament both to her own tenacity and the foundation she received in her supportive housing program – just one of the types of programs for foster youths we now support.

Paige grew up in a home with abuse and drug addiction. To remove her from this toxic situation, she entered the foster care system and was eventually placed in a group home. But remaining in the group home wasn’t much of an option, either. There she experienced little freedom, few opportunities for social interaction, and no one to guide her through the process of entering the adult world and taking responsibility for herself and her life. So she ran away, bouncing between friends’ couches and cheap motel rooms while maintaining her job. Having a roof over her head and food to eat were all important, but what she truly craved was a sense of community, a direction, and most of all – to believe in herself.

When Paige was accepted into a supportive housing program, she got the opportunity to learn from people who cared about her and her long-term success. She had role models to mentor her and teach her the basics of life: how to budget, pay bills, balance a checkbook and set goals. Only then was Paige able to take control of her life and pursue success.

With her growing self-confidence strengthened by the guidance and support she received in supportive housing, she obtained a job, secured her own apartment and bought herself a car to commute to Petaluma Junior College campus. There, she simultaneously earned her high school diploma at age 22 and fulfilled requirements towards her AA degree. She even studied abroad in Italy for a semester – a lifelong dream which she thought was outside of her reach until she got a boost from our Educational Enrichment Fund to supplement her savings. 

Today, Paige is attending Santa Rosa Junior College, working two jobs, and represents the foster youth voice on our Board of Directors.

However, the story isn’t nearly as positive for many other youths who – through no fault of their own – have had to grow up in the foster care system. Here are just a few staggering statistics:

After reaching the age of 18, one in five of the youths who were in foster care will become instantly homeless (National Foster Youth Institute). And according to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, over half of all young adults who age out of foster care nationally end up homeless or incarcerated.

Last year’s wildfires put even more pressures on the housing situation of these vulnerable young people in Sonoma County – and that with a homelessness rate that was already three times the national average before the fires. 

Sonoma County urgently needs more supportive housing to get vulnerable young people off the streets and on the path to a successful, self-sufficient future. As Paige’s story shows, transition age foster youth (ages 18 to 24) need a safe, supportive environment where they can learn the skills they need to live successfully on their own. For many young people out of foster care, this includes learning to cope with the effects of trauma and building the skills to overcome their challenges.

This holiday season, you can help young people like Paige by donating to the Sonoma County Children’s Village initiative for supportive housing. While we have already given over $300,000 towards this initiative, much more is still needed. Please donate today to help this important community initiative succeed. It does take a Village!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2018

We are grateful to all friends, supporters and partners of the Sonoma County Children’s Village. We are grateful that with your help, we can support foster youth in Sonoma County. With every funding request for orthodontic treatment, autism therapy or gymnastics classes that we approve, every spot in RFK’s summer camp or CPI’s art camp that we sponsor, and every dollar we have contributed to CSN’s capital campaign to help house homeless foster youth, we are grateful that we get to improve the lives of foster youth in Sonoma County in very tangible ways.

Being able to help foster youth is the one and only motivation for our small, all-volunteer team. We have no paid staff, which helps make our dollars go even further. If you are interested in supporting our work as a volunteer, we would love to hear from you at info@socokids.org. If you’d like to support our work financially, please visit our donation page.

Again, thank you so much, and Happy Thanksgiving!

The Board of the Sonoma County Children’s Village

 

Sonoma County Wildfires Have Created Need for Emergency Foster Families

October 15, 2017

We have been in contact with Sonoma County’s Family, Youth and Children’s Division (FY&C) as well as several Foster Family Agencies in Sonoma County to find out how the fires have been affecting them and if they need any support. They tell us that in light of the fires and evacuations, emergency foster care is urgently needed. The Valley of the Moon Children’s Home was safely evacuated, but there are many children currently in foster care that are staying in suboptimal conditions. 

If you are or were certified as a foster family and are currently in a situation where you could safely house foster children temporarily, FY&C needs to hear from you! Please contact them through their website.  

Also, if you are considering becoming a foster parent, please step up now so we can get these children into more stable placements as soon as possible. 
 
Thank you, and be safe everyone!

 

Drug abuse, high cost of housing increase need for foster homes in Sonoma County

June 15, 2017

The Press Democrat recently published a very informative article on developments impacting  the need for foster care in Sonoma County  (find the full article at the Press Democrat).

Among their findings:

  • The number of child abuse or neglect cases in Sonoma County rose 17 percent in 2016, with drug abuse and mental health issues playing an increasing role in destabilizing at-risk families, according to county data.
  • The number of children removed from their homes and placed into foster care rose from 208 in 2015 to 263 last year – that is an increase of 55 children, or 26%, in one year!
  • Drug and alcohol abuse on the rise: Drug and alcohol abuse were a factor in 42 percent of the 2,220 cases investigated in 2016 by the county’s Child Protective Services. In 2012, only 29 percent of abuse or neglect cases involved drugs or alcohol.
  • Many at-risk families in the county struggle with multiple obstacles and hardship factors, such the rise in opioid use, the stress and strain caused by the county’s high cost of housing, unemployment or underemployment, and mental health problems. “The more of those issues you have, the harder it is for parents to provide stability and the basic needs that children need to thrive,” says Katie Greaves, section manager at the county’s Family Youth and Children services.
  • That vast majority of allegations CPS investigates are related to neglect rather than abuse and are often found at “the intersection” of substance abuse, poverty and mental health, with opioids being a  “common thread,” says Greaves.
  • Family support can prevent the need for foster care: In 2016, 2,220 reports of child abuse or neglect were investigated by CPS, but only 7 percent of these 2,220 cases resulted in a child being removed from a family. Most of the 2,220 cases were resolved with community-based support services that allowed children to remain safely with their parents. In 2016, Family Youth and Children services spent $724,000 on “pathways to prevention” that offered four levels of intervention to prevent the need for foster care. These range from parent education and housing support to more severe court-ordered “family maintenance” services that provide a family with six to 12 months of intensive social work and support.
  • There is a pressing need for more people in the local community to become foster parents who can temporarily care for children who are removed from their homes for their own safety.
For information on becoming a foster parent in Sonoma County, please visit SonomaFosterCare.org