Keeping Youth Connected and Families Strong
Kinship Navigators are here to help

three siblings, one boy and two girls, Caucasian, hugging and smiling

Josephine*, Lillian*, and Calvin* are two sisters and a brother aged 12, 10, and 7. When their mother became unable to care for them, their aunt and uncle opened their home to them. It was a safer, healthier environment, a familiar one too. Still, the siblings needed help dealing with the trauma they’d endured. They received that care at Stanford Sierra Youth & Families. At Stanford Sierra, the children’s aunt and uncle were also connected with Bianca*, a kinship navigator. Kinship navigators support relative caregivers such as aunts, uncles, and grandparen


Reunification: A Story of Families
Focused on their strengths when faced with challenges

mother hugging two teen children

Jenson* (12 years old) and Haley* (10) are brother and sister. They live with their mom and their two older siblings in a duplex not far from school.  Their mom works during the days and helps them with their homework at night. As with any family, sometimes they argue. But above it all, they love and support each other. They help each other through challenges and celebrate accomplishments. But it wasn’t always this way.


A Voice in Their Own Care
Children gain confidence and believe in themselves again

When Morgan* was in grade school, her father died unexpectedly. Not long afterwards, a friend of the family sexually abused her. In the following years, Morgan became deeply depressed. She had difficulty sleeping and began harming herself. By the time she entered high school, she was isolating from friends and family and in danger of failing out of school.


Myths vs. Facts About Becoming a Resource Parent
Debunking Foster Care Misconceptions

Mom embracing two teenage daughters

When considering to become a resource family there are misconceptions about foster care that may sway you away. Opening your heart and home is an important decision and you should have the correct information. Remember you CAN make a positive impact in a youth’s life.

Let’s debunk the top 12 misconceptions about foster care: 

MYTH 1: I can’t be a resource parent because I don’t own my own home.


Increased Mental Health Challenges for Youth in Foster Care
Modeling and implementing coping skills for youth in care

Two mothers hugging daughter and smiling

There are almost 400,000 youth in foster care in the U.S., with California being a leading state. Recent Federal legislation, designed to help families provide safe and stable homes for their children through culturally appropriate services, has contributed to the declining number of youth in care. While that number has decreased recently, data shows increased mental health challenges for youth, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.


A Strategic Partnership that Supports Local Youth and Families
Sacramento State University

Beatriz Lodia, Wonder Mentoring Program Manager

Sacramento State University and Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (Stanford Sierra) have formed a strategic partnership for over five years. Both entities have a common vision of improving the well-being and quality of life for vulnerable youth and their families in the community. Stanford Sierra supports the entire family with professional treatment and compassionate care, so every youth has the opportunity to thrive at home, in school, and in the community.


All Children Deserve a Loving Home & the Opportunity to Thrive
May is Foster Care Awareness Month

Two moms celebrating their son's birthday

Alex’s* mother abandoned him when he was young, and his father physically abused him.  With no relatives to take him in, Alex was placed in foster care. Still traumatized by the abuse and neglect, Alex was shuffled between four different homes during his first two years in foster care.  The uncertainty compounded the trauma, making life even more difficult and postponing any chance to heal.


Empowering Families to Better Support Our Children
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Mother and daughter embracing and smiling

Andrea* is a single mother. For many years, she struggled with substance use while in an abusive relationship. Andrea’s boyfriend prevented her from getting a job or making friends. He often threatened her. One day a sheriff came to the apartment, responding to a neighbor’s report about a domestic disturbance. During the visit, the sheriff removed Andrea’s daughter from her custody and placed the girl into protective care.


Meet Our Community Engagement Coordinator, Ramona Meza

Photo of Ramona Meza

My name is Ramona Meza and I am the new Community Engagement Coordinator at Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYAF). I am originally from a small town named Riverbank, which is located near Modesto. I graduated from California State University, Sacramento where I earned my Bachelor’s in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations.


Supporting Connections for Youth
March is National Social Work Month

Father and teenage son

Conner was 11 years old when he entered foster care. He struggled emotionally as a result of the past trauma he had experienced. He was placed in a specialized foster care home because he had higher needs. He began working with Whitney, a Stanford Sierra Youth & Families’ social worker, who did whatever it took to make sure that Conner received the support and stability he needed to thrive. 


Healing Through Movement
The purpose of dance throughout the African Diaspora

Black woman in a studio dancing

Throughout the African Diaspora, emphasis on the connection between individual and community plays a vital role in improving health and wellbeing, often woven together through ceremony, empathic connection between healer and patient, food, and dance – rich cultural healing traditions are still reflected in Black and African American communities throughout the U.S. today.

In addition to being community-focused, traditional healing methods in the African Diaspora are body-aware and encourage restorative healing of mind, body, and spirit without internalizing illness symptoms!


Opening Your Home to Children in Foster Care
A journey between four foster homes and three school districts

a littler girl hugging her mom from behind and holding a small present

As the weather grows colder, and the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of warmth, family, and festive gatherings. We are also reminded that there are over 4,000 children living in foster care in our local community that may be experiencing a lot of emotions during the holidays, including grief and loss of family. Children who need our help. Children like Darla.


Celebrating the Reed Family
National Adoption Month Family of the Year

family on adoption day with judge

November is National Adoption Month. It’s a month for bringing attention to issues surrounding adoption. For example, there is a great demand for foster-to-adopt families in our community. This need is particularly high among teens, sibling sets, and LGBTQ+ youth currently living in foster care.


Morgan and a Dog Named Maxi
Creating a family through adoption

girl laying down on grass with Labrador dog

Morgan entered foster care when she was seven years old. Often moving between foster homes, she developed panic attacks and struggled with feelings of abandonment. When she was 13, she was placed with a family that seemed to promise stability, even if Morgan felt she couldn’t be herself around them. But by the time Morgan was 15, the placement had failed. Morgan ended up in a group home and was now self-harming. That’s when the county referred her to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families.


A Commitment to Permanency & the Empowerment of Families
Corey's journey after 15 different foster placements

mom and son hugging

When Corey* was five, he was removed from his mother’s custody because of neglect and placed into protective care. Reunification with his mother was not an option and the county could not find relatives he could live with. Over the next six years, Corey was moved between 15 different foster placements and then placed in a group home. Corey struggled at school and had a hard time making friends.


Meet Maggie Garcia, Community Engagement Coordinator
A knack for creativity to make a difference in children's lives

woman maggie garcia

Hello! I am Maggie Garcia, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families’ new Community Engagement Coordinator! I am currently based in Sacramento, but was born and raised in the Central Valley. I graduated from UC Merced with a Bachelor of Science in Management and Business Economics. During my time there, I was able to create my own opportunities and find my true passions – marketing, design, and anything digital which led me to pursue marketing roles in the health promotion, sports, entertainment, beverage, and renewable energy industries.