Celebrating the Impact We Make Together

Young child, woman, man, pre-teen walking on a bridge in autumn

Since 1900 (for over 121 years), Stanford Sierra Youth & Families has provided help and hope for youth and families during times of uncertainty. Right now, the youth and families we serve need our support more than ever. We remain steadfast in our mission of transforming lives by nurturing permanent connections and empowering families to solve challenges together, so every child can thrive. Your support makes our important work possible!


Jessie’s Journey to Her Forever Family
Together, we are making life-changing differences in the lives of the children and families we serve every day.

Three people smiling at camera

Jessie* first entered foster care when she was very young and although she was adopted, she always wrestled with feelings of abandonment from her biological family. When she was 13 years old, Jessie entered foster care for the second time, because her adoptive mother was no longer willing to take care of her. For the next 2 years, she was shuffled from group home to group home, feeling abandoned, lonely, and further traumatized. She suffered from anxiety, had trouble making friends, and sometimes she hurt herself.


George and Christine’s WONDER-ful Journey
Creating consistent, caring relationships for youth in foster care

Smiling woman with pre-teen boy

George* was 8 years old and living in foster care when he became involved with the Wonder Mentoring program and met his mentor Christine*. Initially, he wasn’t particularly interested in doing new things, but Christine kept making suggestions until they found activities that they both enjoyed: going to parks and watching movies. These activities were fun and enriching, but what meant the most to George was having an adult he could talk to and someone he could rely on no matter what. 


No Time Like Now: Charlotte’s Adoption Story
Her life began by being placed into foster care for her own safety.

Two women smiling at two children of different ages

In 2016, Jason and Emily McDonald* came to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYAF) because they were interested in growing their family through adoption. They had three children of their own (ages 6, 5, and 3) and one on the way, but they felt strongly about expanding their family to include a child who had been less fortunate. SSYAF helped the McDonalds through the approval process and provided training and education to prepare them for their adoption journey.



A Story of Hope
She saw no future for herself. When she tried to imagine one, she saw nothing.

Girl and adult standing on a basketball court

Like many of the young people we work with, Iris* endured trauma and sexual abuse at a young age. For years these traumas were left unaddressed and untreated. Consequently Iris experienced depression and contemplated suicide as she grew up. Twice these struggles required hospitalization. On the second occasion, Iris was connected with a social worker at Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYF).


It Takes One Adult to Spark Inspiration
You can come into your full potential no matter who you are, regardless of how you identify.

Boy and adult with blue sky in background

As a dedicated trainer supporting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in systems of care, I have the honor and privilege of teaching my peers about all the ways they can support children and teens from this community. LGBTQ+ children are often forgotten in the system, overrepresented, and left without permanent families to call their own. Many of us have heard the statistics, some of us have experienced them firsthand. So why should you join us in changing the life of a child?


Meet Our New Intern, Scott Yuki
Like many others, I wanted to do something with an immediate impact.

Picture of Intern, Scott Yuki

Hello! My name is Scott Yuki, a second-year student at UC Berkeley studying Business Administration and Public Health. At Berkeley, I am a member of the Cal Dragon Boat team, the Associate Student body, and the Nikkei Student Union. Unfortunately… or fortunately, my spring semester was cut short. Looking at the bright side of our less fortunate situations, I was able to pass/fail my calculus course and save my GPA! But to acknowledge the realities of 2020, this has been and will continue to be an interesting time for all of us.


A World of Wonder
Matching youth in foster care with consistent, caring adults since 2003.

Two athletes sitting and laughing on the bleachers

One common question our agency receives is about the options available for people who may not be ready to become Resource (Foster) Parents, but who want to support youth in foster care. We recognize that not everyone who can adopt or become a Resource Parent is ready. At Stanford Sierra Youth & Families, we often have Resource Families reveal that they thought about becoming a Resource Family for multiple years before finally deciding to start the process.


A Cap and Gown, Diploma, and Backyard Graduation
Every child deserves the unconditional love, commitment, and support of a family.

High school graduate in cap and gown being congratulated by two adults

At 14 years old, Sean was emotionally abused by his birth mother. After being removed from the abusive environment, Sean was placed in a group home, where he lived for several years. Sean experienced what many young men in foster care experience – a challenge finding a family willing to take in a teenage boy with trauma. He struggled in school, spent time in the juvenile justice system, and experienced mental health issues. 



Promoting Connections During Times of Crisis
The challenges we face during this time will provide us with invaluable tools and resources for years to come.

Close up of toddler's hand holding the finger of an adult

Going about normal routines and balancing new challenges can be difficult during these uncertain times. Many organizations have been forced to restructure, furlough, or even stop providing crucial services to the community. At Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYF), we have been delivering and will continue to deliver essential services to youth and families within our programs, all while focusing on the safety and well-being of all within our communities. The challenges we face during this time will provide us with invaluable tools and resources for years to come.


Stronger Together: Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families Merger
October 9, 2019

Two women walking together

A commitment to permanency and the empowerment of youth and families.

It is with great excitement that Sierra Forever Families (SFF) and Stanford Youth Solutions (SYS) announce the merging of the two organizations, effective July 1, 2019. SFF and SYS have complementary missions and operations and have an extensive history of collaborating to provide services and supports to youth and families.


Adoption Myths
June 4, 2019

Father and child watching the surf

Like most aspects of life related to family and children, adoption is an emotional topic. That might be why foster-care adoption is so ripe for myth-making. At Sierra Forever Families (SFF), would-be parents often approach us with ideas that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s clear up four common ones:


A gloriously sunny spring day picnic
May 23, 2019

Family together outside

A gloriously sunny spring day, scented with the unmistakable fragrance of cotton candy, set the stage for nearly 200 parents and children to enjoy a day of fun and companionship at Sierra Forever Families’ Family Appreciation Picnic on May 4 at Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin.


California’s first-ever surgeon general prioritizes children’s health
April 30, 2019

Child holding stuffed toy

February/March of 2017, in a two-part series on how trauma affects children, this blog highlighted a 16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris that has been viewed on YouTube 1.8 million times.

Dr. Burke Harris, a pediatrician trained at the UC Davis School of Medicine, has been hailed as a leading voice in transforming our understanding of how children’s traumatic experiences can trigger serious physical and mental illness.