How a Santa Cruz County non-profit continues to change lives
There are more than 62,000 children in foster care in California, according to the California Department of Social Services. That number may seem overwhelming, but New Families, a local non-profit private foster care agency, is up for the challenge.
New Families is a Felton-based organization that has been taking a different approach to the foster care system for over 11 years. They micromanage cases for 40 children in 30 homes throughout Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito and Sacramento counties.
New Families employs four full-time social workers that are able to take a central role in placing foster children with the right families. “We match the best homes for the best children to ensure that they are comfortable with their environment,” says Jenna Wolfson, a social worker for New Families. Wolfson adds that taking the time to match each child with a potential foster family has been a great success: rather than placing a child in any home that may be available, families and children have an easier time adjusting to their change in circumstances when they are eased into new situations.
Above and beyond placing children with the right families, New Families offers events for foster children to feel a sense of community with other children in the program. This past summer, field trips were offered to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Children’s Museum in San Jose and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “These events offer a sense of community for foster families,” says Wolfson.
New Families has also been the recipient of donations in the form of gift cards and other merchandise from stores throughout Santa Cruz. These donations are then given to foster parents as a token of appreciation for their hard work and dedication. As the community works together to find solutions that affect many children’s lives, Wolfson says that it actually takes very little to give so much. “New Families would like to thank all donations that they have received for their foster families,” she says. “And above all, we would like to thank the foster parents for stepping in and creating a positive change for the children.”
Foster care programs are constantly recruiting new families that would like to be part of changing a child’s life. New Families is prepared to help anyone that is ready to face the challenges that go along with becoming a foster parent. “A foster care parent provides 24/7 care, supervision and emotional support to children who have been removed from parental care for either child neglect or abuse,” according to the New Families website. “Consequently, these kids can be difficult to manage and integrate into the family…being a foster parent requires a great deal of patience and understanding.”
If, after all of these challenges that face potential foster parents, they still feel up to the task of a rewarding relationship with a foster child, New Families offers all of the training that is necessary to become approved as a foster parent. This training includes a criminal and child abuse background check, a tuberculosis test, CPR and First Aid certification along with a variety of training classes offered through New Families and meetings with the social worker that will eventually place a child in the home. From start to finish, it takes two to three months to become a foster parent.
New Families is currently looking for new foster homes for all of the children in need of a stable family. If you are interested, contact New Families directly at 335-8380 or visit their website at newfamilies.org to begin the process.