Blog: Our Success Stories

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Celebrating Foster Care Awareness Month
A Heartfelt Thank You to Dignity Health for Sponsoring Our 2024 Family Picnic

2024 Family Picnic Group Photo

We are thrilled to express our heartfelt gratitude to Dignity Health for sponsoring our 2024 Family Picnic! This event is more than just a day of fun—it is a vital celebration of our incredible resource families and a cornerstone of Foster Care Awareness Month. This May, we came together to champion a vision where all children thrive in committed, permanent, and nurturing families, supported by their communities and enhanced by trauma-informed services.

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Healing & Hope in a Loving Family
Sean and Ricky

family of 4, two older bothers, mom and dad

Sean and Ricky were born into a household marked by physical abuse and neglect. When Sean was six and Ricky was five, they were taken into protective custody. The brothers were moved nine times during their seven years in foster care. While most kids their age were making friends, developing academically, and growing socially, Sean and Ricky were often moved from home to home with little notice. They were separated twice when the county couldn’t find a family to take them both in. 

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Finding Forever
Melanie's Journey to Family

Black mom and  daughter laughing together

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.

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Stitching Lives Together
Nurturing Growth and Resilience Through Mentorship

female mentor embracing teen male mentee

“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.

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Walking With Youth Through Challenging Times
October is National Youth Justice Action Month

teen boy and mom hugging

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*.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.