San Diego, CA— As it has for many years, Walden Family Services will march this Saturday, July 14 with the Pride Parade, a joyful celebration to “foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.” Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services, shares why this is an important focus for the 42-year old foster care, adoption and transitioning youth services agency.
“We want all the children, youth and families in our Walden community to feel embraced and supported. All too often, LGBTQ youth are bullied and some are even rejected by their birth families, which is heartbreaking,” explained Stivers, who leads the agency headquartered in San Diego, with district offices throughout Southern California. “This is why, statistically, LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care and among the homeless.”
All Walden staff and prospective foster and adoptive parents are trained using the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children, All Families resources to ensure that all LGBTQ people that engage with the agency have a positive experience.
“At a time when some states are advancing legislation allowing discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents, here at Walden we want to reaffirm that we have always welcomed LGBTQ couples as foster and adoptive parents—and we always will,” added Stivers. “After all, love is love and children and youth in foster care fare much better when they are able to live in a loving home.”
The Pride Parade is a free, community event that begins at 11 am Saturday.
Thanks to the generosity of St. Germaine Children’s Charity as well as individual donors, Walden Family Services has received $5000 in matching funds in a grant from The Parker Foundation.
The matching funds are an addition to a $15,000 grant benefitting Walden’s Transitional Housing Program (THP) for foster youth. THP ensures that young people transitioning from foster care to independent living are given the help and support they need to thrive.
“As they move from foster care to full independence, our young people are especially vulnerable,” said Walden CEO Teresa Stivers. “Without a safety net, former foster youth can become homeless in an instant, or victims of abuse, drug use, and an unending cycle of trauma. This matching grant will help us break that cycle and help these kids pursue education, employment, and a valuable place in our community.”
Walden Family Services deeply appreciates the support of The Parker Foundation, St. Germaine Children’s Charity, and all the individual donors who’ve contributed to Walden’s efforts to help every child succeed and thrive.
The Parker Foundation was founded on October 5, 1971 for charitable purposes leading to the betterment of life for all people of San Diego County. With a net endowment of $40 million, the Foundation has granted over $50 million since inception.
St. Germaine Children’s Charity is a California nonprofit corporation comprised of approximately 300 members committed to stopping child abuse and improving the lives of abused and neglected children in San Diego.
The neglect and abuse that precedes a child’s entry into foster care has repercussions that can last a lifetime. For caregivers, dealing with a traumatized child’s emotional and behavioral issues can be worrisome, exhausting, and frustrating.
For the child, it can be even worse as feelings of sadness, anger, and fear lead to a downward spiral.
Walden Family Services urges California lawmakers to support Assembly Bill 2043, which would establish The Family Urgent Response System for Foster Youth and Caregivers, a statewide toll-free hotline offering families and children round-the-clock access to counselors trained in conflict resolution and de-escalation.
These counselors would provide immediate relief while determining whether further onsite help is needed.
In addition, the bill would require counties to establish mobile response teams to provide in-home intervention 24/7 if needed to stabilize the situation and give follow-up care, working with the existing local agencies.
Access to the hotline and mobile response will also lead to fewer interactions between foster youth and law enforcement.
Giving relief and support to families under stress is for the benefit of everyone involved: the children who desperately need stability and the caregivers who are trying to provide it. Please join us in calling for the passage of AB 2043 to help families cope and carry on.