Melanie entered foster care when she was eight years old in 2017.
For the next two years, she was placed with several families,
some of them kin. However, each placement ended when the resource
family was unable to address Melanie’s emotional and mental
health needs. Melanie had been neglected before entering care and
required special help.
“I had a conversation with the recent guardians of my mentee.
They expressed the challenges they faced as guardians, especially
in obtaining information about the youth’s past, including
medical history. This made me realize that, apart from his
biological mom, I am the adult who has been in his life the
longest, nearing half of his life as he approaches adulthood.
Emily* is a teenager. In many ways, she’s like her peers.
She studies for tests and does homework while navigating deeper
issues like identity and fitting in. Emily deals with other
complexities too, issues many of her peers don’t. She
endured repeated trauma as a child and now lives in foster care.
Desiree* and her two younger brothers Connor* and Micah* grew up
in an unsafe environment, where they were exposed to drug dealing
and domestic violence. When Desiree was 8 years old and her
brothers were 3 and 5 they were placed in foster care for their
When Brianna* was six, her mother became unable to care for her,
and Brianna was placed into foster care. Her first placement
didn’t last long. When her second placement was about to
end prematurely as well, Briana’s aunt Shelly* stepped forward to
Curtis* lives with his mom and two younger siblings in a
neighborhood with few job opportunities or after-school
activities. Curtis frequently skips school. When he
attends, he often argues with teachers and fights with other
students. In the last year, he’s been involved with the
juvenile justice system for marijuana possession and, more
recently, theft. That’s when Sacramento County Juvenile
Probation Department put him in contact with Darrell*.
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
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.
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.
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
MYTH 1: I can’t be a resource parent
because I don’t own my own home.
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.
Amara* lived with her three children and her husband, the
children’s stepdad, who was verbally and physically
abusive. Child Protective Services became involved, removed
the children from the home, and placed them in foster
care. Amara, who herself had been abused as a child, was
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
Alysha* knows what it’s like to be loved and cared for, to feel
wanted, and to be part of a family. She does well in school, has
lots of friends, and loves taking vacations with her parents. Not
long ago, she faced a different set of circumstances.
Jay*, Gilbert*, and Theo* are in middle school. They also
live in foster care. For most of their lives none of them
socialized much or even knew other kids like themselves, kids in
foster care. Sometimes this left them feeling isolated and
alone. “No one knows what it’s like,” said Theo, “unless
you’re in it too.”