2016 Proclaimed as ‘Year of Foster Youth’

Date: December 22, 2015 Author: Pamela Hagen

Both the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and the Placerville City Council issued and presented proclamations proclaiming 2016 as the Year of Foster Youth.

After several years of planning and preparing by a group of foster youth service providers and advocates, a joint request was made to both the City and the County for issuance of this proclamation. That group will now use them as a springboard for a combined all-out outreach campaign in 2016 that they have named “Superman was a Foster Child.”

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In accepting the proclamation at the County Board meeting on December 7th, Christie Johnson, Board President for Foster Awareness Network, stated the goal of this campaign which is, “To turn El Dorado from a county of waiting children to a county of waiting families.”

Accepting the proclamation from the City of Placerville on December 8th, spokesperson for the group, Pam Hagen, Community Relations Coordinator at the El Dorado Community Foundation, went further in encouraging and inviting the entire community to “become the village needed to support our foster youth.”

Statistics for the future of foster youth are staggering; from incomplete education to incarceration to substance abuse and/or suicide, none of which should be acceptable in our society let alone our community. The proclamation states that “every child deserves a safe, loving and nurturing place to call home,” and the truth is, too many do not. Sheila Silan, Program Coordinator for foster youth at the El Dorado County Office of Education, tells us that on any given day in this county there are 250 foster children receiving services and/or waiting for that safe home.

Knowing that not everyone is in a position to be a foster family, the second part of the campaign is focused on bringing awareness to the many other opportunities available to support our kids, including:

• Providing transportation
• Providing respite to foster families
• Sponsoring a child
• Donating clothing and school supplies
• Mentoring – especially to teens
• Providing a home for transitioning youth 18-21
• Providing short-term, emergency housing

Statistics can be changed. Karl Weiland, El Dorado County Assessor and one of the advocates named on the proclamations, shared his personal story of being a “foster kid” whose life was changed by foster parents who provided a home where “I was given time and space to get my bearings and make some better choices for myself and my future.” Imagine if this scenario could be duplicated with all of our county’s 250 children and what that could mean to not only the children, but to our entire community as a whole.

If you would like to know more about how you might join in the work being done to not only proclaim, but truly make 2016 the Year of Foster Youth, you are invited to call the Foster Awareness Network at 530.626.0444 who can then, depending on your interest level, direct you to the agency who would best match that interest.