San Rafael, CA – Just in time for the holiday season, there’s a new opportunity for Marin residents to assist local foster families that are nurturing youngsters who are part of the child welfare system through no fault of their own.
A screened Friend of the Family can help with transportation, provide meals, or donate goods or services to help the resource family of a foster child.
The Friends of the Family program
is orchestrated by the Children and Family Services Division
of the Marin County Health and Human Services Department
(HHS). In short, it links generous community members to resource families that can use a little support. While not everyone is in a position to foster a child, any adult can volunteer with Friends of the Family after going through an approval process.
“Fostering children is a rewarding yet demanding calling – we have a deep understanding of that,” said Leslie Fields, an HHS Child Welfare Worker. “We’ve found that the level of support a resource family receives directly correlates to their success in fostering children and their retention as a resource family. Many resource families have told us they could do more if they had a bigger support network.”
Children come into the child welfare system for a variety of reasons, through no fault of their own. Marin averages 80 children in out-of-home care, also known as foster care, and nearly two dozen of them are placed in homes outside of Marin – even several hundred miles away. The Children and Family Services Division seeks more local homes so it can bring those young people back to grow up in their own community.
A screened Friend can help with transportation, provide bought or prepared meals during times of transition, or donate goods or services. The volunteers will receive training and support from social workers familiar with the foster care system.
“There are many ways to become involved depending on a person’s individual interest, resources, and availability,” Fields said. “They can let us know how much time they have and how they would like to help, and we can match up that offer with a family with those needs.”
Interested applicants will work with Children and Family Services and the Marin County Volunteers Program to become approved as a Friend of the Family. The assessment process varies depending on the level of involvement a prospective participant will have and may include a background check and an interview with a social worker. For more information and the application, visit FosterourFutureMarin.org.
Those interested in fostering must complete the Resource Family Approval process to become a resource family. Once approved, such a family may provide temporary care to a young person while biological families work toward reunification, or the resource family may choose to provide a permanent home if the child or children are unable to return home.
Marin HHS is hosting an orientation for potential resource parents on Tuesday, December 10, at the Marin Health and Wellness Campus, 3240 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael. Monthly orientations are from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Wellness Campus’ Room 109. A social worker and an experienced resource parent facilitate the meetings and discuss the application process, the training, and the support available. To learn more and see future orientation dates, visit www.fosterourfuturemarin.org or call 415-473-2200.
All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff by email or at 415-473-7331 or 415-473-4381 (voice/TTY).