SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 2012 as Foster Care Month. The recognition praises foster families for their selfless care of the County’s most vulnerable and fragile children, and supporting efforts for families to reunify, and rearing children when reunification is not successful.
“Ensuring foster children have the opportunity to grow in a structured, and nurturing environment is an ongoing challenge,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, and Vice Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “To everyone involved with foster children and youth, thank you for your compassion and commitment to help them thrive.”
In California, nearly 51,996 children rely on the foster care system. Although state and local efforts have reduced the number of children needing of foster care in favor of more permanent alternatives, approximately 1004 children in Santa Clara County currently live with foster families, relatives, extended family members or group homes.
“Foster parents and families not only are guardians, but mentors, teachers, and often lifelong connections to the children entrusted in their care,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “We are grateful for the example they are providing to our communities to help rear future generations with the attention and dignity they deserve.”
The County of Santa Clara Department of Family and Children’s Services trains foster parents to help rear children experiencing neglect, separation and other personal challenges. The Social Services Agency is always looking for candidates with a broad range of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, including bilingual homes, families willing to welcome preteens, teenagers and/or sibling groups of three or more children, or to provide for children with special medical, emotional, developmental and educational needs.
“Children and youth in foster care are tended to and cared by foster parents, but they are temporary arrangements by and large,” said Luke Leung, Interim Social Services Agency Director. “It is incumbent on the County to work closely with parents, community partners and the court towards permanency through family reunification, relative placement, adoption and guardianship."
Estimates indicate that every year 25,000 youth turn 18 and exit foster care with no family and not enough support.
In the spirit of forging new collaborations, today, Briana Saldivar, a former foster youth, received a refurbished computer donated by the California Emerging technology Fund and iFoster, an online community that connects foster children and youth with information and support on their path to becoming independent, successful adults. The computer will help Saldivar, a founding member and part time employee of the Hub, the County resource and services center for foster youth, meet the academic demands she faces as a full time student at Evergreen Valley Community College.
State law allows up to six children in a foster home, including the foster parents’ biological children. Based on a wide array of factors, from particular needs, age, religious, cultural, ethnic and language background, to number of siblings, the County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency works diligently to match children with foster homes. Currently, the County has about 387 licensed foster homes.
Research from the Santa Clara County’s Social Services Agency’s indicates that foster children fare better when placed in a specialized foster home, with an individualized treatment program that includes foster parents carefully matched and trained to meet the needs of each child.
Santa Clara County Social Services Agency also offers Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC) services. Children/youth with serious emotional and/or behavioral issues receive intensive in-home therapeutic and behavior-management services, instead of traditional group home care (Level 9-14).
ITFC homes provide close supervision and implement a structured, individualized program for each child. An ITFC home blends regular foster family care with intensive counseling, case management, and support services. Foster parents are recruited, complete 60 hours of certification training, and receive ongoing support as part of the treatment team. Besides meeting the minimum foster care requirements, ITFC foster parents must be at least 25 years old. Having prior experience with foster care or the target population also is highly desirable.
To become a foster parent candidates should fill out an application, and agree to a background check and training. The process also includes meeting with a social worker for home visitations and consultation.
Those who are interested in becoming foster parents, or want more information on how to be a resource for the county’s children in need, may contact (408) 299-KIDS or visit the Social Services website at:www.sccgov.org/fpr
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119; Nicole Huff, Social Services Agency, (408) 491-6750
Posted: May 22, 2012