For Immediate Release
Sonoma County expands efforts to recruit local foster parents and adoptive families
April 25, 2022
Facing an urgent need for foster parents and adoptive families willing to open their homes to local children, Sonoma County is expanding its partnership with a national nonprofit, RaiseAChild, to recruit families willing to take in foster children and give them a place where they can feel safe, wanted and loved.
Every day, 50 to 75 local children and teens are in temporary housing and awaiting placement in a foster or adoptive home, said Meg Easter-Dawson, program development manager for the county Department of Human Services’ Family, Youth and Children’s Division. Most live at Valley of the Moon Children’s Center, the County’s emergency shelter for youth, which housed 36 children in January. Another 319 local children were in foster or adoptive homes.
“We are experiencing a shortage of foster homes for the children and teens in need,” Easter-Dawson said. “Valley of the Moon Children’s Center is meant to only provide temporary housing for up to 10 days. But we have children, especially teens, who must stay much longer because we don’t have a foster home for them to go to. Not having a stable foster home just furthers their trauma and makes it harder for them to heal.”
Today, the County announced it is expanding its partnership with RaiseAChild, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit with a newly opened Santa Rosa office. The $25,000 contract and year-long campaign will consist of community events and multimedia promotions to raise awareness of the needs of local children in foster care.
“RaiseAChild has designed a year-long outreach and awareness campaign customized for Sonoma County,” said Rich Valenza, founder and CEO of RaiseAChild. “The initiative will encourage all adults across the county — including individuals, same-sex couples and people who do not speak English as their native language — to make a positive and powerful difference in the lives of children by becoming a foster or adoptive parent.”
Human Services has long collaborated with nonprofits to provide adoption and foster care services, including RaiseAChild, TLC Child & Family Services, Alternative Family Services, Lilliput Families and Seneca Family of Agencies. The expanded partnership with RaiseAChild will widen the reach of the County’s efforts to meet the unique needs of every child by recruiting foster and adoptive parents from a diverse cross-section of the community. The campaign will include local radio advertisements, neighborhood banners and social media messaging, spearheaded from RaiseAChild’s new office in Sonoma County.
Founded in 2011, RaiseAChild is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBTQ+ and other prospective parents interested in building loving families through fostering and fostering-to-adopt.
The County’s foster care program provides safe and healthy environments for children who must be removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Foster parents can be single adults, straight and gay couples, Spanish-speaking families, children’s relatives, family friends and other approved caregivers. Children who cannot be placed with foster or adoptive parents are cared for at the county’s emergency shelter for youth, the Valley of the Moon Children's Home.
“Although we have over 250 approved foster families, there is still a need for more to meet the unique needs of our children,” said Easter-Dawson. “We are especially in need of families who appreciate the adolescent years and are open to caring for teens.”
There are several options for foster parenting:
- Provide a temporary home as an emergency foster parent or foster parent;
- Become a foster parent to a child or youth with the possibility of adoption, or;
- Rent out a room and be a mentor to an older foster youth going to school or working.
Learn more about the benefits of becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt parent by attending a free informational meeting on Zoom. The next webinar in English will be held on Thursday, May 12 at 6 p.m. and the next webinar in Spanish will be held on Wednesday, May 11 at 6 p.m. Info and RSVP at Advocate@RaiseAChild.org or (877) 417-1440. More events and information online at raiseachild.org/event.
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