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

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

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. 


A Wonder Adventure
Supporting youth impacted by foster care

Bryce* is a 15-year-old Explorer in the Wonder Mentoring Program.  He’s been with his mentor, Patrick*, for about two years. Bryce enjoys the time they spend together playing disc golf, talking, or just hanging out.  While Bryce thrives in one-to-one settings, he isn’t as eager to spend time in groups. They can feel overwhelming to him. So when it came time to sign up for Camp Wonder (a summer camp for kids in Wonder), Bryce told Patrick he didn’t want to go.


Children Deserve a Chance to Enjoy Life & Thrive
Sean & Ricky find their forever family

an adoptive mom hugging two brothers

Sean* (15) and Ricky* (14) are brothers. Sometimes they work with their dad, who owns a landscaping business. During the week, their mom drives them to school, music lessons, and team sports. With so much going on, the family often eats dinner separately, but every Sunday night, they sit down together to reflect on the week gone by and discuss the one ahead. Sean and Ricky lead meaningful lives, enriched by family and friends, but it wasn’t always this way.


A Reunification Story
Gabrielle's journey back home

two adults and a young girl

Today Gabrielle* is a healthy, happy six-year-old girl looking forward to starting first grade in the fall. One of her parents is usually home with Gabrielle. On the odd day that both work the same shift, a friend of the family stops by to help. Gabrielle enjoys healthy meals, knows where she’s going to sleep each night, and is surrounded by adults who love and care for her. It wasn’t always this way.


Family of the Year 2021: The Osorios
National Adoption Day Nomination

family with 3 kids

After many years of trying to grow their family, the Osorios were matched with a pair of siblings, Mackenzie and Noah.  Before joining the Osorios, Mackenzie and Noah had had very little exposure to the outside world.  They were emotionally dysregulated and in need of many forms of care.

Mackenzie often had tantrums.  She would throw and destroy objects around the house.  Noah had never seen a dentist.  Cavities in his baby teeth had spread to his adult teeth, which hadn’t come in yet.  Both children suffered developmental delays.


There is Healing and Hope in a Loving, Stable Family
A story about brothers moved between five foster homes

two brothers

Before being referred to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families, Darren* (age 3) and Kevin* (age 5) had experienced significant trauma and loss. Darren, Kevin, and their older sister were removed from their home due to parental substance abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services placed the children with an aunt. Unfortunately, their aunt was unable to care for or properly supervise them. Late one night, the sister tried to run away and was struck by a car and died. The boys, already traumatized, were devastated.


Erin and Kimberly’s Wonder Journey
Foster care can feel frightening, uncertain, and overwhelming

teen and mother

Erin* was 12 years old when she was removed from an abusive household and placed with a resource family in the foster care system. Like many traumatized children, Erin showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Frequent nightmares made sleeping difficult. During the day she could be irritable and easily upset. She was hypervigilant when around others and preferred to spend time alone in her room.