Over the past year, 2238 children in Santa Clara County were placed in foster care for at least one day. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed May as Foster Care Appreciation Month, to recognize the outstanding contributions of hundreds of foster parents.

“We salute our foster parents for their dedicated and generous care of the County’s most vulnerable children,” said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. ”Foster parents provide love and hope for children experiencing a great deal of uncertainty in their lives.”

The National Data Archive on Child Abuse & Neglect indicates that over 50,000 children in California rely on the foster care system. Although state and local efforts have helped decrease the number in favor of more permanent alternatives, family reunification is not always successful. Over 1,000 children and youth in Santa Clara County are currently under the care of the Department of Family and Children Services because of abuse, neglect, abandonment or other personal issues. They live with foster families, relatives, extended family members or group homes.

“Foster families are extraordinary partners in our effort to find stable homes for hundreds of kids in our county,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian, Chair of the Board’s Children Seniors and Families Committee.  “We’re grateful for their willingness to support youngsters in need of structure, attention and compassion.”

According to research from Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, foster children fare better when placed in a specialized foster home that offers an individualized treatment program with carefully matched and trained foster parents that meet the needs of each child. The Social Services Agency looks for candidates with broad range of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. This includes bilingual homes, families willing to welcome preteens, teenagers and/or sibling groups of three or more children, or children with special medical, emotional, developmental and educational needs.

The Social Services Agency continues to invest in services that strengthen the foster care system and encourage adoption. Ensuring every qualified caregiver has the chance to be an adoptive or foster parent helps to increase permanency and reduce rates of re-entry into foster care.

“Our primary goal is to build collaborations between caseworkers, teachers, advocates, and family members to ensure that our foster children grow with the necessary tools to successfully transition to adulthood,” said Bruce Wagstaff, Director of Santa Clara County Social Services Agency.  “We believe that the opportunities awaiting these boys and girls in the future are linked to how we respond to their needs now.”

At the Foster Care Appreciation Month Proclamation, Ms. Gloria Carrillo, a single parent from South County since 1997, who has provided a loving foster home for approximately 30 children, received the Foster Parent of the Year Award. Throughout Ms. Carrillo’s tenure in foster care, she has been a tireless advocate for groups of siblings and children with special needs placed in her home, working with birth parents, social workers and service providers to ensure children receive the necessary services for reunification whenever possible or find a permanent home.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our foster parents, especially those who exemplify the commitment Gloria has demonstrated,” said Lori Medina, Director of the County’s Department of Families and Children. “Both their kind hearts and devotion are crucial in creating stable and safe homes for children who need our care.”