Children and Youth

A new chapter in foster care in San Benito County

Inaugural Foster Family Appreciation Dinner on June 22 featured Health and Human Services, CASA and Gabilan Chapter Kinship Center
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June 22 was the Gabilan Chapter Kinship Center's first ever Foster Family Appreciation Dinner held at Running Rooster in Hollister. The dinner was a thank-you to local foster families and those that are in training to become foster families. Organizers called this dinner "a new chapter" because they are turning the page to help and support foster families in our county. Through continued communication between the county, Kinship, CASA and families, Kinship will be better prepared to help and support our foster families.

Speaking at the dinner were: Maria Corona, deputy director of the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency; Nancy Murphy, director of placement programs for the Northern California Kinship Center; Shyloh Stearns, social work supervisor II at the Health and Human Services Agency; and Janell, a local foster mom. Murphy shared with the group about the services that will be available locally through Kinship. Murphy also has an adoption/foster family support group every other month that is free to everyone. The group meets at the Presbyterian Church in Hollister. Child care is available if participants le organizers know in advance.

Janell is spearheading a network for the families to communicate, share respite care, meet for coffees, etc. One of her goals that is being implemented is a clothes closet for foster families to access. The clothes closet will have gently-used clothing for infants to teenagers. It will also have new items, such as sippy cups, bottles, and more.

Local Gabilan Chapter Kinship volunteers were also on hand at the appreciation event, coordinating the dinner with Shyloh Stearns from Health and Human Services. Kinship's foster families were presented with a gift bag filled with goodies that a foster family could use when adding children to their home. Future foster families were presented with a gift book and plant. Gabilan Kinship also plans to help with respite care and with the clothes closet.

Organizers said the evening was a great success. "Our goal is to keep our foster youth in our community as opposed to having them placed out of San Benito County. It was a great opportunity for our families to get to know each other, find out what new services are being offered, and to thank our foster families for all that they do. Through continued communication between all of our agencies and volunteers, we will make a difference in our foster youth in our county."

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kathy tiffany

THIRD ANNUAL FOSTER FAMILY APPRECIATION DINNER May 28th was the third annual Foster Family Appreciation dinner. It was hosted by Gabilan Chapter Kinship Center at Jardines de San Juan. We held the first dinner two years ago with the Department of Social Services. We wanted to thank the families who foster our vulnerable youth in San Benito County. If the kids are able to stay within the county, near to their school, friends, sports teams, etc., it is less disruptive to an already fractured situation. This past year Gabilan Kinship was able to support the families through a Christmas shopping expedition; the children were able to buy gifts for their biological and foster parents. The kids had a ball and really loved being able to buy for both families. In the spring we were able to help support a spring egg hunt. Our group donated eggs and candy. The foster families have their own support group and a clothing closet. Kinship continues to have training for future foster and adoptive families at the office at 345 Fifth Street. If you are interested in the foster family training you can contact Debbie Schugg at dschugg@kinshipcenter.org. Between the county’s effort and Kinship, the foster families are growing in our county, which will only create healthier kids and families. The number of county foster families has almost doubled in the past year. In addition to our foster family appreciation dinner, Gabilan Chapter Kinship Center awarded four scholarships to foster and adopted youth from San Benito County this past academic year. The scholarship information will be posted to our website in January 2020. If you know of any teen who would be interested in applying for our scholarships, please direct them to our website. Our group has also started the Gabilan Fund, which will issue grants to foster youth for items their families cannot afford; information is available on our website. The website also has information regarding our annual wine tasting event that will be held on September 7th at the Paicines Ranch from 4:00-7:00 PM. To find out more information go to our website at www.gabilankinship.org.