Teresa Stivers named an Influential Leader by The Daily Transcript

Congratulations to Walden Family Services’ CEO Teresa Stivers for being named to The Daily Transcript’s list of 50 Influential Leaders.

As the CEO of San Diego-headquartered Walden Family Services, an organization dedicated to finding loving foster homes for special-needs, hard-to-place youths throughout Southern California, Teresa would like nothing better than to be put out of business.

“We’d do that through prevention and making sure that future generations don’t end up in foster care,” said Teresa. “We’d really like to see ourselves serving [fewer] families because we’ve done so well at making sure that children and families have the tools they need to stay together and be successful.”

Teresa estimates that Walden has had a positive impact on the lives of more than 10,000 children and families since she took the organization’s reins in 2010. Teresa said referrals come from various counties.

“They know we specialize in working with children who are very hard to place because they have special needs,” Teresa said. “We’re most often the last resort before a child either has to go into a mental facility of a high-level-care group home.”

Before Walden, for which she oversees about 110 employees in five offices and an annual budget of $13 million, Teresa worked in advertising and public relations. She was once deputy chief of staff to former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding.

“I wanted to start helping children, so I transitioned into the field that I’m in now and I love it. I feel like it was my life’s calling,” said Teresa, adding that one of her top priorities is to ensure Walden’s economic stability and, thus, its existence. “The more children and families we can catch, obviously it brings us joy and we know that we’re making a difference in the life of the child.”

As long as there’s a need, Teresa will make sure that Walden Family Services doesn’t go out of business.

Businesses Supporting Nonprofits – It’s more than just the money

Walden Family Services was featured in this month’s issue of San Diego Metro Magazine! In the article “Businesses Supporting Nonprofits – It’s more than just money,” Walden CEO Teresa Stivers discusses the importance of corporate donors in the non-profit world. We are fortunate to live in a generous and supportive community where businesses significantly contribute to many wonderful causes throughout San Diego. For Walden, not only do our corporate donors supply monetary and in-kind contributions, but they are active in the organization, serving on Walden’s board and volunteering at events like Wine D’Vine. Their kindness and generosity are phenomenal. 

Walden thanks all of our corporate donors and encourages all businesses to get involved with the community. No matter what your business’ core services or products are, there is a San Diego non- profit that could use your help. 

Click here to read the full article.

 

Is your next hire a former foster youth?

By Teresa Stivers

Finding local, hardworking employees with the right skill set and professional and personal acumen keeps many a recruiter awake at night.

As San Diego businesses know, recruiting and retaining good workers is an ongoing challenge. Many employers have had difficult experiences hiring young, under- and un-experienced employees. On the flip side, many former foster youth want to get on an employment course that will ensure their futures, but they don’t have the foundation to do so.

Helping improve our city’s workforce by providing employers with work-ready young adults while helping an underserved population — former foster youth — was once a lofty goal that we are now seeing become a reality.

When youth in the foster care system turn 18 years old, 65 percent do not have a place to call home. These young adults are also missing the essential structure, guidance and support as well as job and life skills training that parents typically provide.

Throughout California, programs are now being made available to help former foster youth become workforce ready that provide housing, training and support. Walden Family Services Transitional Housing Plus Foster Care (TH+FC) program, one of the first of its kind in California, is one such program that fills an important void by providing a stable environment where former foster youth can learn the skills they need to live independently and be employable.

Housing

The cost of housing in San Diego County keeps many potential employees from entering the local workforce or forces them to live a transient lifestyle that can affect their job performance. Transitional housing programs, including TH+FC, provide apartments for former foster youth participants, pay the rent and utilities and even arrange for furnishings. This keeps the young adults in a stable environment that is more conductive to steady employment and school attendance.

The program participants are responsible for maintaining the apartment and following all of the laws and apartment regulations. Drug and alcohol use is strictly forbidden. Social workers help them shop for and prepare meals. Because of the weekly visits and ongoing supervision provided by social workers, these young adults are held to higher standards of work, education and personal ethics than those that most 18 — 21 years old display.

Education and Employment

To be eligible for the TH+FC program, former foster youth ages 18 to 21 must be attending college or vocational school at least part-time or be working at least 80 hours a month. Some choose to do both. Social workers assist the young adults with applying for school, conducting a job search, filling out job applications and counseling them as to how to interview for a job. They also provide appropriate work uniforms and business or school attire. Many foster youth don’t know how to drive, so Walden links them to driver’s education as well as bus passes and gas cards so getting to and from work and school isn’t an issue.

Work and Life Skills

Former foster youth often struggle with issues from their childhood that affect them into adulthood. Receiving individual and group therapy that helps these young people deal with everyday stresses, including work and life balance, domestic violence, substance abuse, anger management and relationship issues is essential. They learn to get along with others and the appropriate skills for working out problems and disagreements, whether at work or at home. The TH+FC program provides this support.

The youth also learn to manage a budget and maintain a savings account in which they must deposit at least $25 each month so that they are prepared to live independently when they exit the program. They are also required to get regular physicals and dental cleanings to ensure that they are healthy for work and school.

Breaking the cycle of unemployment and homeless for former foster youth is a main goal of all transitional housing and post-foster care support programs. Participants receive high level support and skills training which, in turn, builds a foundation for them to be excellent employees and community members.

Imagine an entry-level workforce that is well prepared to accept the short and long-term challenges of work and home life, has ongoing support to deal with the hurdles of becoming an adult and lives in a secure and stable environment.

The success of the TH+FC program and others like it proves it is possible.

Whether you need an intern or a permanent employee, a former foster youth may be your next great hire.

Teresa Stivers is CEO of San Diego-based Walden Family Services. In addition to the TH+FC program, Walden provides traditional foster care and adoption services.

Harnessing the Winds of Change to Support Children and Families

Last week, Walden Family Services was honored to speak at the Family Focused Treatment Association’s (FFTA) 31st Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Our Chief Operating Officer Sue Evans, and Director of Quality Assurance Mary Frame, gave an informative presentation about how to start a foster care and adoption program tailored to meet the needs of children with special health care needs. They provided a full overview of Walden’s program, including assessment of the children served, the infrastructure required, risk management issues, funding challenges and tools to develop a similar program.

 

Walden Family Services Joins the Clinton Health Matters Initiative

We’re excited to announce that the Clinton Foundation has partnered with the County of San Diego (COSD) and The San Diego Foundation (TSDF) to bring the Clinton Health Matters Initiative to San Diego and Walden Family Services has been chosen as one of the initiative’s key stakeholders. Over the next three years, we will work with a coalition of other San Diego agencies to address the comprehensive health needs of children and families who interact with the region’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. We will strive to create systematic change in order to improve the health and wellbeing of children and families within the system. It is our belief that creating strategies that focus on prevention and are successful in reconciling the needs of the child’s wellbeing with the goal of family reunification will serve as the foundation for this change.

Thank you to The Clinton Foundation, COSD and TSDF for this wonderful opportunity to invoke positive change in our San Diego Community.

Walden Foster and Adoptive Parents Recognized at RaiseAChild Honors Gala

Congratulations to Walden foster and adoptive parents Oraisa and Shindana for being recognized at the 5th Annual RaiseAChild Honors Gala.   

RaiseAChild is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adopting. The organization’s annual Honors Gala, held earlier this month, honored individuals and families for their advocacy on behalf of fostering, adoption and inclusive families.

Oraisa and Shindana were certified for foster care and adoption in 2011 with Walden. Since being certified they have fostered 16 children, many of whom were eventually placed with relatives or reunited with parents. Many of the children they fostered displayed traits of aggression, defiance, lying and stealing, yet they never gave up. Oraisa and Shindana’s ability to parent through unconditional love is evident in how they are able to respond to children with challenging behaviors in a positive and understanding manner.

Earlier this year, Oraisa and Shindana adopted their foster daughter, Ireana.

We are proud to have Oraisa and Shindana as members of the Walden family.

Walden CEO Teresa Stivers Named Among Women Who Influence San Diego

Congratulations to Walden Family Services’ CEO Teresa Stivers for being named to the 2017 list of Women Who Impact San Diego by San Diego Metro Magazine.

Teresa was selected for the positive impact she has made on the San Diego community through her role at Walden tackling the issues of education, health and community services and affordable housing. 

The publication highlighted the many strides Teresa has made at Walden. Under her leadership, Walden has launched the THP+FC program to service young people staying in foster care until age 21, established visitation centers that provide supervised visits for birth families and children in foster care and launched programs to support pregnant women and parenting teens. 

The publication also highlighted Teresa’s many volunteer efforts. She is a member of the San Diego Regional Chamber’s Education and Workforce Development Committee, a member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and on the executive board of Housing YOU Matters, a broad-based coalition that advocates for sound solutions for increasing housing supply and lowering costs of building new homes.

Walden receives Proclamation from San Diego City Council

Walden Family Services received a proclamation, presented by the City of San Diego Councilmember Lorie Zapf on May 23, 2017,  for Foster Care Awareness month. Foster Care Awareness month aims to increase awareness about foster care and encourages more involvement in the lives of these youth – whether as foster parents, volunteers, mentors or employers. In San Diego County, there are approximately 3,300 children in foster care. Each year, over 300 transition age youth leave the foster system. Over 50 per cent do not have high school diplomas, are unemployed and become homeless. Walden is proud to be recognized by the City Council’s proclamation for providing quality programs to our foster youth and families.

Councilmember Lorie Zapf’s experience as a foster child instilled in her a passion for helping disadvantaged children.  She has been an active volunteer for non-profit organizations that help abused, neglected and foster youth. Councilmember Lorie Zapf invited Walden Family Services, along with other foster youth agencies to a private reception at City Hall with the Executive Producer Greg Gugliotta, and lead actress Sherri Saum, for the hit ABC Family seriesThe Fosters. Representing Walden were Sue Evans, Chief Operating Officer; Kathryn Stephens, Director of Philanthropy; Art Candland, Foundation Board Chair, and his wife Michelle Candland. Following the private reception, The City Council awarded Walden Family Services a proclamation for Foster Care Awareness month.

Now in its 5th season, The Fosters is an American family drama television series which first premiered  June 3, 2013. It follows the lives of the Foster family led by lesbian couple Stef and Lena, a cop and a school vice principal respectively, who raise a multi-ethnic blended family that consists of one biological and four adopted children in San Diego, California.

We thank City Councilmember Lorie Zapf, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and all the Councilmembers for honoring our important work with foster youth. We also wish to thank “The Fosters” Executive Producer, Greg Gugliotta and lead actress Sherri Saum for their realistic portrayal of the challenges of parenting foster youth and the issues they face.

 

 

 

A Walden THP+FC Program Success Story

Congratulations to Haley on her recent graduation from Walden’s THP+FC Program!  Haley was in our THP+FC program for approximately two and a half years and was able to save $5,380 in her graduation savings fund. Haley is a full-time college student who has a bright future ahead of her. She recently obtained an internship through the City of San Diego and is transitioning over to our THP Plus Housing Program this month. Haley will be one of our first THP Plus Program participants and we are very excited to continue to work with her. All of us at Walden are very proud of Haley and all of her achievements!

Walden’s New Logo!

Since 1976, Walden Family Services have been caring for foster youth and families.

We are proud to present our new logo that captures the spirit and uniqueness of Walden’s services and people. Our goal is to show the vibrant connection of Walden Family Services to individuals and our community. Our new logo is bold, heartfelt, and timeless.

The heart at the center of the W for Walden represents the core of what we do.

We are excited to announce our new logo to you and hope you like it too.

Thank you to Judd Brand Media for creating our new brand!