Foster Family Service
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Photo by Dante Fontana
In 1989, Foster Family Service – a non-profit, fully-licensed adoption agency – opened in Placerville and placed its first foster family in South Lake Tahoe.
Designed to provide foster and adoptive parents for children who have been removed from their biological family due to abuse or neglect, Foster Family Service places children (from small babies up to 18-year-olds) in both short and long-term care. In 2008, a headquarters opened in Cameron Park where it actively communicates with all six offices across Central and Northern California, ensuring the best matches between children and foster homes take place.
One of the many jobs of a foster parent is to help ease a child’s fears and to teach he or she everyday life skills. In addition, many children have behavioral challenges and developmental disabilities, so the organization tries to find families who are able to care for those special needs. “We have opportunities each and every day to make life better for the children and families we work with. I greatly value, in fact, consider it an honor working with our foster parents and social workers,” John Johnston, Foster Family Service Executive Director says. The Cameron Park facility has about 30 certified foster families that live in various areas including Georgetown, Pollock Pines, Swansboro and El Dorado Hills.
In addition to emphasizing quality preparedness for each family, Foster Family Service also teaches parenting, positive discipline, and a more basic curriculum called “Parent Project,” which is offered to both certified families and to the biological parents. “Since many of these children are adopted by our foster and adoptive families, we are in continual need of new families to join us,” Johnston says. The first step in becoming a foster parent is making the decision to be committed to helping disadvantaged youth live a better life than the one that has been dealt to them. Becoming a foster parent is not for everyone. Johnston thinks it is a huge commitment and takes much thought as well as a big heart to be able to care for someone else’s child.
Shockingly, there are about 70,000 children currently in foster care in California. The court usually gives the birth parents up to 18 months to prove their home is a safe environment; the children who do not return home make up the average of 600 children awaiting adoption in California. According to Johnston, about 50 percent of children in foster care will be returned to their biological family, and the other half are in need of either ongoing foster placement or adoption through their foster family.
Since Foster Family Service is a nonprofit, all of the fundraising money it receives is used to fund various services for children placed in foster care including counseling, summer camps and even prom dresses. Coming up in April of this year, the agency will participate in both the Jackson Duck Races and Placerville Kids Expo.
For more information or to volunteer, visit fosterfamilyservice.org or call 530-676-6226.