Events & Resources


Events & Resources

Welcome to our Events page, where each gathering is a celebration with a purpose! From the spirited DesCor Builder’s Oktoberfest to the heartwarming Holiday Giving initiatives, we host a diverse range of events that bring joy and make a difference. Join us in supporting causes like Big Day of Giving and National Adoption Month, or tee off at the Iron Mechanical Golf Tournament for a fun-filled day of fundraising.

We’re committed to supporting local youth and families through our initiatives and events. Every gathering is an opportunity to come together, create memories, and contribute to a brighter tomorrow for our communities.

Get involved and let’s make meaningful moments together!


“One Day I Want to do Your Job!”
A Ten-Year Retrospective

Ebony Chambers and Jean Philson

Dive into a heartfelt journey of transformation from one of our very own Family Partners, igniting a ten-year retrospective and leading to a career dedicated to empowering families. Follow Jean’s inspiring path from receiving Wraparound services to becoming a Family Partner herself, shedding light on the enduring impact of compassion and support. Join her as she navigates challenges, finds strength in shared experiences, and shapes a brighter future for families in need.


Prevention Through Empowering Communities
Family and Youth Partners as Natural Supports

Illustration for Wraparound

Discover the powerful personal journey of youth advocates, who share insights on navigating crises, the limitations of traditional therapy, the transformative impact of natural support systems and the urgent call to invest in community tools for resilience. Join the conversation on reshaping support structures before crises strike, fostering empathy, compassion, and proactive well-being for all.


Delivering Christmas with Audacy
A Partnership with 98 Rock, 96.9 The Eagle, 106.5 The End, ESPN 1320, 102.5 KSFM, Alt 94.7

Group photo with Audacy radio stations: ESPN and 106.5 The End

Our Community Engagement Manager, Karla Zaragoza, had the pleasure of speaking with Doug Thomas about our programs and the impact we can make to help local youth in foster care through Audacy’s Annual Delivering Christmas Toy Drive. Thank you Audacy for having us on the Sacramento Public File and partnering with us to bring holiday joy to local children! Listen to the full episode here


SMART Initiative
Combating Structural Racism & Advancing DEI Efforts

SSYAF Staff sitting around a table after a meeting

We are proud to partner with Sacramento County’s Behavioral Health Services (BHS) and the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS), as we embark on an imperative initiative—the Self-Assessment for Modification of Anti-Racism Tool (SMART) project. The objective is to facilitate a comprehensive evaluation of our organization’s practices, focusing on behavioral health domains that are impacted by structural racism.


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.


Capital Region Cares Community Spotlight
Comstock’s Magazine

Diverse children in a park, smiling

During May, which is National Foster Care Month, we want to bring awareness to the need for safe and nurturing homes for youth in care over the age of 10. These young people never outgrow the need for a loving family. Through our Pathway to Permanency program, older children are connected to a family that can provide a sense of stability, lasting connections, and guidance.


Kars 4 Kids Grant: Healing Families for the Sake of the Children

A family of four posing

We too, believe that helping children needs to be a holistic effort that strengthens and supports the whole family. That is why we felt so good about having a small part in the critical work of this organization by way of our small grant program. We share the mission of giving kids a feeling that they belong, and helping families to learn how to heal, moving forward.

Click here for the full interview with SSYAF Director of Development, Christie Shorrock.


SAFE Grants $10,000 to Help Kids in Foster Care Moving to New Homes

SAFE Grants $10,000 to Help Kids in Foster Care Moving to New Homes

SAFE Credit Union is committing $10,000 to help area children and teens living in foster care with mental health services provided by Stanford Sierra Youth & Family Services throughout Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties. The grant will be used to offer a continuum of care to local youths living in foster care – many of whom are recovering from childhood trauma – seeking and moving into permanent homes. 


Studio40 Live Interview

Ebony with two news reporters

Watch our very own Chief Family and Youth Partnership Officer, Ebony Chambers, chat with Gary Gelfand and Scott Moak of Studio40 Live. They discuss our Mission, Giving Tuesday, and the importance of supporting local foster youth during the holiday season.


Stanford Sierra Youth & Families Welcomes Ontson Placide as New Chief Program Officer

Photo of Ontson Placide, LMFT

After an extensive search and a multi-step application and interview process, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families is thrilled to announce that it has hired a Chief Program Officer (CPO). Ontson Placide, LMFT will serve as our agency’s newly appointed CPO and will oversee programs and services across the region, supporting clinical and program directors. 

Ontson has demonstrated that he is a catalyst for positive change within the Los Angeles community for over 30 years and brings a wealth of knowledge regarding operational excellence in public and private/non-profit community agencies. He has an unwavering commitment to provide innovative services for youth and families, in particular, for the most vulnerable at-risk youth/families in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. He strongly values the voice of the young people and their families.

Ontson brings with him the experience of being the Senior Administrator at one of California’s largest behavioral health services organization, Stars Behavioral Health Group/Star View Children & Family Services, overseeing 160+ staff in a $22 Million per year division with oversight of many types of programs and funding sources. Ontson also brings his experience as the Chief Operating Officer with Fred Jefferson Memorial Homes/FFA/Adoptions, where his focus was to expand their services in response to the California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) initiative.  Ontson will be coming to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families from his most recent position as the Clinical Program Manager II/Program Head for LA County DMH, in one of the largest directly operated clinics in Los Angeles County.

Ontson has vast experience in both public and non-profit administration and business functions as well as clinical services, management, and best practices which include, but are not limited to the list below.

  • Organizational/strategic Planning 
  • Administrative oversight and program development
  • Start-up and implementation of various complex programs and payment models/delivery systems
  • Advanced funding stream oversight
  • Strong total quality management/continuous quality improvement acumen
  • Experience with Evidence Based Practices (EBPs) and quality service implementation
  • Senior leadership experience in training and staff development
  • Cultural diversity, equity, and inclusion presenter/trainer

Please join us in welcoming Ontson to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families, and to Northern California.


Celebrating 120 Years of Empowering Youth

Photo of CEO Dr. Laura Heintz

Celebrating their 120th anniversary, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYF) provides a continuum of care to empower youth and families to overcome challenges together, as well as connects youth in foster care to the permanent loving families they need and deserve. SSYF annually serves 4,500 youth and their families throughout 17 Northern California counties.

SSYF was originally founded in 1900 and has remained committed to helping vulnerable children and families since inception. Throughout the years, the organization has transformed from an orphanage to a community based organization focused on ensuring every young person has a family and the tools to overcome their challenges, so they can become healthy, happy, and successful.  

With the merger in 2019, Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families became SSYF which offers greater depth of services, staff, resources, and expertise. Uniquely designed programs help end the child welfare cycle by keeping children safe and together with family, in school and out of trouble. Services include family stabilization, behavioral and mental health services, juvenile justice intervention, foster care and pre- and post-adoption support.  “Over the years, our organization has continuously evolved to meet the needs of youth and families. What hasn’t changed is our determination to help youth overcome obstacles, develop life skills, and grow into self-sufficient adults. We support the entire family with professional treatment and compassionate care, so every youth has the opportunity to thrive”, says Dr. Laura Heintz, CEO.

SSYF looks forward to many more years of continuing to fulfill the organization’s vision of communities with safe, lifelong connections for all young people, built and strengthened through generations of empowered families.

Thank you to our community Partner, Comstock’s Magazine for helping us highlight this momentous occasion in their December edition!



Stronger Together: Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families Merger
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.


Derby Day 2018

Woman with big pink hat

We were so grateful to have been a part of Derby Day 2018!

Derby Day was held May 5th, 2018 at Lucchetti Ranch in Wilton, CA. It was a daylong event that blended horse racing and supporting local children in need. The festivities included cuisine from hot local restaurants, Mint Julep Bar (of course!), wine and beer tasting, equestrian demonstrations, live music, barn tours, Weiner Dog Race, Derby Hat Contest, Bow Tie Contest, equestrian art, raffles, silent and live auctions and the high point of the day: the live televised running of the 144th Kentucky Derby!

Proceeds from Derby Day will support 7 local charities, including Stanford Youth Solutions!

A big thank you to everyone who made this event possible!


For more info on this event click here


Our CEO selected for Sacramento Kings/Walmart Community Playmaker Award
Congrats, Laura!

Congratulations to our CEO, Laura Heintz, who was selected to receive the Sacramento Kings/Walmart Community Playmaker award at Friday’s game on court about 6:35-6:45. The Sacramento Kings partner with Walmart through the Walmart Community Playmaker program to recognize individuals that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to their community.

Kings Note: Laura was nominated to receive this award and be recognized for being the embodiment of leadership as the CEO at Stanford Youth Solutions. Under her oversight, Stanford Youth Solutions’ programs have been heralded for producing positive outcomes and the ability to connect youth to safe, permanent and stable families. Through her work and work of Stanford Youth Solutions, our community is ultimately stronger.


Grant awarded from Teichert Foundation!
Thank you Teichert Foundation for supporting our Resilience Leadership Academy!

(Pictured Heather Riggs, Teichert Foundation’s Associate Director presenting a check to Laura Heintz, Stanford Youth Solutions’ CEO.)

We are extremely grateful to the Teichert Foundation for awarding a generous grant in support of our Resilience Leadership Academy. The Teichert Foundation’s grant will help provide leadership and life skill development opportunities for our young people who have faced challenges such as poverty, abuse, domestic violence, and/or trauma. Ultimately, the partnership will empower and equip these resilient youth with the support, skills, and resources needed to make the transition into a healthy and self-sufficient adulthood. Thank you, Teichert Foundation for investing in building brighter futures for our youth – the next generation of leaders in our community!


We have a new website!! Bringing Home Within Reach
Our new website redesign helps families in crisis

New website page

A huge thank you to Digital Deployment for our beautiful, newly designed website! “Home Within Reach”

Check out this article from Digital Deployment about the new website design:

“Stanford Youth Solutions is dedicated to helping families in crisis situations and empowering them to overcome obstacles. Specifically, the organization provides behavioral and mental health services for at-risk youth to help families stay together, or in some cases, help a youth find a new permanent home.

Their organization stands apart from its peers because of a highly professional, disciplined, and evidence-based approach, as well as its commitment to empowering staff with both technology and training. This was something we were able to experience first-hand when we attended their annual open house event. Seeing the staff speak passionately about each of their programs set the tone for this beautiful, impactful new website.

The work they do inspires us. So, when they recently reached out for a mobile-first, responsive redesign of their website, we couldn’t wait to make it happen!”

Read more here


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.


California’s first-ever surgeon general prioritizes children’s health

Nurse holding a baby and a woman in a suit looking at the baby

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.


Serious Fun in Nevada County

Young person at the 49er Fun Parkk

Excuse our glow, but we’re basking in the success of an event, held recently on Tuesday, June 26, that brought together more than 200 members of Nevada County families formed through adoption. It was an epic gathering but, most importantly, it was a valuable reminder of how much success in foster/adoption depends on the pure pleasure of community connections.