Everyday Angels

Everyday Angels


By Amy Benitez


All children deserve loving and nurturing parents; however, when a family is in crisis sometimes the adults are unable to meet the needs of their children. For some the thought of a child’s not being provided the basic necessities of childhood (nurturing and safety) are beyond comprehension, but the reality is that approximately 700 children are in foster care in Butte County. Youth for Change Foster Family Agency strives to provide safe, nurturing homes for children to grow and heal in the foster-care system. While Youth for Change believes that the best place for a child is in his or her home, when that is not a possibility our staff makes every effort to provide that child and his or her family with the skills and resources needed to bring them back together in a healthy and nurturing way.

Children who are in the foster-care system are there as a result of their exposure to trauma through abuse or neglect from their caretakers. The children in our care require caring and compassionate adults to help them stabilize. Foster parents are often the first step in healing for these kids. Foster parents can help a child learn to trust and develop a sense of safety in the world. Foster parents, of course, are not alone and as the adage goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our “village” consists of a team of people who provide both the child and the family with comprehensive professional services.

Foster parents have a very challenging and rewarding job. They are on the front lines with these kids. Foster parents open their homes and hearts, climb mountains of behaviors, are up in the middle of the night, become taxi drivers and advocates, love these kids like their own, all the while preparing them to go home to their own families. It’s like a dance of loving and letting go. Foster parents also have to go against the grain sometimes in the interest of the children, which can sometimes be a lonely but noble road. Foster parents stop getting invited to all their friends’ dinner parties because of the “wild foster kids,” and their schedules adjust to make time for visits, and counseling appointments, and doctors’ appointments, and tutoring, and . . . the list goes on. But in all the years I’ve worked with foster parents, they continue doing the amazing work they do, and in the best interests of the children they forge on, and children blossom.

Youth for Change So many foster parents plant wonderful seeds of hope and trust in these little people. Their work is invaluable but often is not given the recognition it deserves. They truly are angels among us. Youth for Change is in the process of putting in place a Foster Parent Appreciation Program as it’s important to take care of the caretakers. Through this program we are developing regular respite for our foster parents, Foster Parent Nights Out, and several businesses have donated services and gift cards to this program to honor these special people who help take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.We’re always looking for new ideas to support our foster parents, and if you’ve got one please let us know.

Or you can always become a foster family yourself. Youth for Change offers traditional foster care as well as multidimensional treatment foster care (MTFC) and Fost-Adopt programs. Traditional foster care works with kids 0-19, often in sibling groups, and supports children and families in the child welfare system through the reunification process. MTFC, a recent addition, is just getting started. MTFC specializes in treating youth with antisocial behaviors. There is a complete team for each child and foster parent to support them in developing prosocial skills, to help them succeed in life, and stabilize in an after-care placement. MTFC is short term and places one child, age 12-17, at a time. Fost-Adopt is a program in which we work collaboratively with California state adoptions and help children who have been permanently removed from their family of origin find their forever family.

In addition to the Foster Family Agency, Youth for Change offers numerous programs and is a multifaceted organization that seeks to support children and families so they may live happy and safe lives by providing services that promote dignity, self-determination, and well-being.

If you would like to find out more about the services Youth for Change offers or to become a foster parent call 530-877-6764.