Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Send Some Holiday Cheer from the Town of Hope

Visit the Town of Hope to send your loved ones a Holiday Greeting Card, and shop for:

...items that stretch beyond the family’s budget;

...worn out clothing that need to be replaced, or new ones needed for special occasions;

...items from the wish lists of children so that they may realize their hopes & dreams.

To send a card, go to

Shoebox program helps naval base give back to community

Photo by Joseph A. Garcia
Seaman Marcus Hicks helps organize gifts that civilian and military personnel of Naval Base Ventura County donated to Aspiranet, a nonprofit organization that works with California’s foster care families and children. About 168 gift boxes were collected for the children in foster care in Ventura County.

Read the full article at

Friday, December 18, 2009

This holiday season, give hope to children in your community.

The State of California, like the rest of the country, has experienced an economic downturn unlike anything seen in decades. This has led to a reduction in availability of financial resources for Aspiranet, as our work increases with the growing number of children and families in need. These are difficult times, and difficult times bring with them difficult decisions.

At Aspiranet, we will continue to uphold our commitment to the future of children. Aspiranet touches the lives of over 5,000 children and families every year. Your gift will support children and families we serve statewide: We find loving and nurturing foster and adoptive homes; we work to prevent child abuse and neglect; we provide in-home services to high risk families as they care for their infants and toddlers; we meet the learning and behavioral challenges of troubled adolescent boys; and we help emancipating foster youth transition successfully to emotional and financial independence.

Our vision is to take collective action to support communities as they love and care for children. When we come together to love and care for children, we create stronger, healthier and safer communities.

Thank you for helping Aspiranet Raise Hope and Empower Community.

Aspiranet plays Santa for foster children this holiday season

(CENTRAL CALIFORNIA) Aspiranet, one of the largest foster care and family services agencies in California, invites the community to participate in its annual Holiday 2009 Toy Drive across five counties in Tulare, Kern, Fresno, Kings, and Mariposa.

Through this toy drive, Aspiranet builds a bridge between the generosity of the community and the holiday wishes of foster children. Now through December 20, customers can take “wish ornaments” from 76 Starbucks stores and return them with the child’s holiday “wish” for distribution to the foster children, just in time for the holidays.

“The socially responsible staff of Starbucks motivated their customers to become involved,” and allowed Aspiranet to distribute gifts to a record number of children in 2008,” said Vernon McFarland Brown, CEO of Aspiranet.

“Foster families are our society’s unsung heroes,” notes Jeannie Imelio, Central Valley Regional Director of Aspiranet. “They play a key part in our community, providing homes, care, and support for children of all ages. Their successes are team efforts – partnerships in parenting and community building in which all can play a part; from corporate partners to the support and generosity of everyday citizens, it’s a success story that greatly exceeds the sum of its parts.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Invite Family and Friends to Picture the Rewards

Picture the Rewards’ Town of Hope was built to raise money for and awareness about Aspiranet foster kids. We know that it can be uncomfortable to ask others to make a donation, but it’s easy to invite them to visit the wonderful Town of Hope. Once at the Town of Hope, visitors will learn more about what foster kids need and how to make a difference in the lives of foster children.

To learn more about how you can spread the word, please visit:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aspiranet's Holiday Secret Revealed... Meet the Fosters!

Aspiranet is pleased to announce that the Foster family is featured on a new website called “Picture the Rewards,” which was developed to help Aspiranet’s foster children.

Picture the Rewards or click here to learn more about the Foster family!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Families Make it Official

Noe and Yvonne Garcia became certified foster parents with Aspiranet in January 2007. They became foster parents to help children in need of a home, but the Garcia’s were not thinking of adopting. They never expected to meet a child they could not let go of! Jade came to live with them in March 2007, and they quickly grew very attached to him. When it became clear that he would be going up for adoption, the Garcia's made the decision that they would adopt Jade. It was a long process, but through perseverance and commitment, Jade was adopted on National Adoption Day 2009! Jade’s photo is featured in the article linked below which was published in the Stockton Record. His face clearly shows how excited he was to have found his forever family!

Read the Stockton Record article:

More Flu Tips for our Foster Parents

The Centers of Disease Control recommends the following 4 steps to prevent the flu, including H1N1.

1) Hand hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol based hand cleaners also work.

2) Cover mouth and nose: Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow or shoulder.

3) Stay home when sick: Keep the sick person (including you) home at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (without use of fever reducing medicine).

4) Vaccination: Contact your foster child’s doctor regarding the seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 fl u vaccines. If your foster child’s doctor recommends the H1N1 flu vaccination, please notify your Aspiranet Social Worker prior to your foster child receiving the vaccination. Your Aspiranet Social Worker will assist you in obtaining the necessary permission for your foster child to receive the vaccine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Old Navy, Aspiranet join forces to help foster families

It’s a match made in heaven – Aspiranet’s commitment to foster families and a corporation with a will to support their inspiring work. Thus, while many simply advocate for the support of low-income families, Oakridge Old Navy and Aspiranet take action, last week delivering free clothing to nine foster children in three homes. Old Navy store manager Eric Jasmine personally visited the families at the San Jose Aspiranet offices to deliver the goods to the grateful kids.

The event inspired Jasmine to network with other store managers, resulting in a broader alliance between Aspiranet and Old Navy, to commence Nov. 30, when 10 stores – from the South Bay to the Gold Coast, including Oakridge, Fremont, Eastridge, Marina, Salinas, Gilroy, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Valley Fair, and Westgate – will place donation barrels in-stores for customers to join the effort. The donation program will run through Dec. 5.

Foster Parents: Make Holiday Preparations

So you’ve planned the meals, bought the gifts, decorated the house, sent cards… What else is missing? Don’t forget to talk to your social worker about your holiday plans.

• Do you need help providing gifts?

• Will you need respite?

• Are you going out of town to visit family, and do you plan to take the kids?

• Do you have any house guests arriving from out of town, and if so, have you discussed this with your Social Worker?

• How about the relatives? It might be a good idea to tell them about the children you are caring for and discuss any gift exchange expectations in advance.

• If the child wants to, and there is still a connection with the birth family, would it be appropriate to have a visit or send a card or gift?

•Will you be attending religious services? How does the child feel about that? Open discussion about their beliefs is permissible, but they should not be forced to attend if they are not comfortable with attending.

• Are all of you prepared to handle the long break from school? There are many fun and thrifty activities that can rescue any family from cabin fever. (Some of those ideas are included in this issue of the newsletter)

Friday, November 20, 2009

SNBC Newsletter - November 2009 Edition

Get the latest SNBC news in our bilingual November 2009 Newsletter (pdf). Download it now!

The fall edition of Westside Wave: News from SNBC features two exciting full-length stories. Gordon Lim, an instructor in SNBC's afterschool progam at Sunset Elementary, shares the story of how and why he's been a part of SNBC for 9 of the 19 years he's been alive. SNBC's West Sunset Rec Connect is taking environmentalism to a whole new level, infusing envrionmentally-friendly practices into all of Rec Connect's programs. Read all about it in the newsletter and click here to learn more about West Sunset Rec Connect.

Sign up here to learn about future SNBC news, programs, and events.

SNBC is part of the Aspiranet Network.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An H1N1 (Swine Flu) Guide for our Foster Parents

With daily news reports regarding the H1N1 (Swine) flu, we’d like to take this opportunity to address this important public health issue with you. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to seasonal flu and include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and fatigue. Some individuals may also experience diarrhea and vomiting.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that children with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, and heart problems, are at higher risk of having complications from the flu. Young children under the age of 5 are also at higher risk for flu complications.

As foster parents, you may be caring for children who are new to your family and/or for whom you may not know all their medical history. For this reason it is especially important to recognize and watch carefully for the signs and symptoms of flu or unusual behavior that may be a sign that they are sick.

Due to this being an especially active flu season, please contact your foster child’s doctor and notify your Aspiranet Social Worker should your foster child show any signs of illness or flu-like symptoms. If your foster child or anyone in your family is diagnosed with the H1N1 flu, please notify your Aspiranet Social Worker immediately.

The CDC recommends that if a child is in a high risk category and is showing signs of the flu, to contact the child’s doctor immediately, as the doctor may prescribe medicine that will work best within the first 2 days of getting sick.

If your foster child does become ill, as foster parents, you may not give your foster child any over-the-counter medications that are not first approved by a doctor.

Therefore, please refer to the child’s home file for the Prescription for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications form (RF-45) for information about OTC medication for your foster child. If this form is incomplete or outdated, you must obtain direction from the child’s doctor regarding the type and correct dosage of over-the-counter medication for your foster child. If in doubt, please contact your Aspiranet Social Worker for assistance, before giving any OTC medication.

As always, please contact your Aspiranet Social Worker or District Director with any concerns or questions. Please notify your Social Worker if you are in need of assistance in caring for your family due to your or their illness. We are here to support and partner with you in caring for your family.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A message from our CEO

Dear Foster Parents,

As you are aware the State of California like the rest of the country has experienced an economic downturn unlike anything seen in decades. The California State Budget has been greatly impacted by the current economy. No doubt you have watched, as I, in dismay the debate between the State Legislature and the Governor on how “cuts” will be made to vital programs that support some of our most needy citizens. These are difficult times and difficult decisions have been made.

Unfortunately even care for foster children was not “spared” from the “chopping block”. Many of you participated in making our state leaders aware of how the children should not be “forgotten” in the debate. I want to personally thank you for your efforts.

As you may have heard, the State Legislature and the Governor agreed to “cut” foster care rates by 10% effective October 1, 2009. The loss of revenue to Aspiranet due to these cuts is nearly $1.8 million dollars over the next ten months.

For nearly thirty five years Aspiranet has provided care for children in foster homes. You are all part of a proud tradition of service to children. I am proud to declare to you that we will not reduce your foster care payments in the face of these historic cuts. Our support of your efforts is unwavering!

The staffs that support you have made a commitment to reduce spending, to reorganize the way we do our work and sadly say goodbye to some of their colleagues due to layoffs. I wish to acknowledge their steadfast support of you and your work.

Aspiranet has always met its financial obligations to its foster parents. Our focus is to not lose sight of our commitment to the future of children. I would ask you to direct any questions or concerns that you have to your District Director.

We will not stop our advocacy on behalf of children. Your voice as foster parents needs to continue to be heard. Efforts to restore our funding will not be an easy battle. As always, I will make myself available to foster parents to listen to your concerns. The Headquarters Phone number is 650.866.4080.

With gratitude for your commitment to children my best regards.

Vernon Brown, CEO

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Adoption Story

Check out the NEW inspirational adoption story posted to the Aspiranet Adoption Awareness Month site!

Get Your BVA T-Shirts!!

Recently the Central Coast Aspiranet office had its inaugural fundraising event called “The Black Vest Affair” Motorcycle Run. It was a lot of fun and a beautiful day for everyone. We are sorry that many of you could not attend. So we decided to offer t-shirts from the event!

These shirts are grey, long sleeve, 90% cotton – they have grapes with flames flowing down the right arm – the front has the name of the event on the top left hand pocket area and the back has the name of the event – Aspiranet and sponsors. All in all it is a great looking shirt (and warm too).

They are nice quality shirts and we thought that some of you may want to have one! The cost is $12.00 which covers the cost of the shirt and shipping. We still have all sizes from Medium to XXXL.

If you missed the event but would like to show your support click here to buy a T-shirt.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BVA Sponsors 2009

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Adoption Awareness Month Ice Cream Social Celebration

Event: Ice Cream Social Celebration
Location: 2115 Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA (Map)
Start Time: 11/18/2009 2:30 PM
End Time: 11/18/2009 4:30 PM
A Collaboration of Aspiranet and Merced County HSA. RSVP to Jamie Moua at 209.725.2125.

Flyer: View the event flyer

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sacramento Adoption Day Resource Fair

Title: Adoption Day Resource Fair
Location: Sunrise Community Church, Fair Oaks, CA (Map)
Start Time: 11/21/2009 11:00 AM
End Time: 11/21/2009 3:00 PM
Description: Come learn from both families and experts about the challenges and joys of being a foster or adoptive family. Connect with local agencies about resources and options that are available to you.

Flyer: View the event flyer

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Come Join Us for an Adoption Day Celebration in Visalia

REACH and Tulare County Celebration
Location: Imagine U Children's Museum, Visalia, CA (Map)
Start Time: 11/14/2009 11:30 AM
End Time: 11/14/2009 2:30 PM
Description: REACH and Tulare County Adoptions invite Tulare County
Foster and Adoptive parents and their children to join us for a day of fun!
Flyer: View the event flyer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aspiranet celebrates National Adoption Awareness Month

Adoption Day is on November 21

November is National Adoption Month. On November 21, National Adoption Awareness Day, local communities will celebrate as thousands of foster children are adopted into families.

“There is no greater aspiration in life than to help children in need and together we can raise hope and empower communities,” said Art Chaparro, Director of Development for Aspiranet. “Every day children face family crisis. Hard as it is to imagine, children are often neglected, abused, abandoned, have special needs or disabilities. Children over the age of nine, teenagers, youths with special needs, and siblings especially need loving homes.”

For 30 years, Aspiranet, one of the largest foster adoption agencies in California, has been working to ensure that children are placed in permanent loving homes.

Older children, teenagers, youth with special needs, and siblings are especially in need of loving families to care for them. Will you help them?

To learn more about Adoption Awareness Month, find an event in your area, and read inspirational stories about Aspiranet adoptive parents, please visit

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Get Your Tickets to the Black Vest Affair Motorcycle Run to Support Foster Children

Sunday, November 8, 2009
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Robert Hall Winery, Paso Robles
$40 ride, lunch, shirt, and raffle ticket
$30 passenger ride and lunch

Registration - 1800 Grand Avenue, Grover Beach, CA
or Robert Hall Winery, 3443 MIll Road, Paso Robles, CA

All proceeds from this event will directly benefit the Central Coast Chapter of Aspiranet and help support foster children.

The charity ride starts up at 1800 Grand Avenue in Grover Beach, ending at Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, just in time to feast on a lunch prepared by Catering by Chef Charlie with live music.

Ticket holders will have an opportunity to enter drawings to win a trip for two to Las Vegas, cooking classes from Catering by Chef Charlie, and other donated raffle prizes.

For more information, please call 805.473.8760.

Sponsors include Robert Hall Winery, Catering by Chef Charlie, Rontal, Doughboys Pizza, It’s Your Party, and Toby Bellocchi of Tobyco Builders.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Toughing it Out

Siblings of Challenged Children (Emotional, Medical, Behavioral and/or Educational Challenges)

Siblings of children who have either acute or chronic challenges often "rise up" to meet a crisis and assist parents so the family can continue to function. But most have trouble sustaining that level of effort over time and need caretaking themselves. These kids are trying to cope with unusual circumstances that can exhaust their parents. Also, their peers often can't relate to their stress, which can leave them feeling isolated. This workshop will highlight key concepts necessary in attending to these "good kids" so they can continue to be supported to develop in a healthy way.

When: Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Where: Children's Health Council
650 Clark Way
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Free (pre-registration is required)

For more info:
Sue Garber

(650) 617-3845

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Outreach workers, Tulare County Sheriff's Department officials observe St. Johns River homeless camp

From the Visalia Times-Delta

Angela Leathers with Aspiranet, left, talks with Ashley Hewes and her puppy, Boots, during a visit Thursday by volunteer social workers, housing coordinators and government officials intended to help match homeless residents with shelter and health and employment services. (Steve R. Fujimoto)

The California Report Looks at Foster Care

Listen to The California Report’s first in a series of reports on the state of foster care in California.

Click here:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Get Your Tickets to the Black Vest Affair Motorcycle Run to Support Foster Children

Sunday, November 8, 2009
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Robert Hall Winery, Paso Robles
$40 ride, lunch, shirt, and raffle ticket
$30 passenger ride and lunch

Registration - 1800 Grand Avenue, Grover Beach, CA
or Robert Hall Winery, 3443 MIll Road, Paso Robles, CA

All proceeds from this event will directly benefit the Central Coast Chapter of Aspiranet and help support foster children.

The charity ride starts up at 1800 Grand Avenue in Grover Beach, ending at Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, just in time to feast on a lunch prepared by Catering by Chef Charlie with live music.

Ticket holders will have an opportunity to enter drawings to win a trip for two to Las Vegas, cooking classes from Catering by Chef Charlie, and other donated raffle prizes.

For more information, please call 805.473.8760.

Sponsors include Robert Hall Winery, Catering by Chef Charlie, Rontal, Doughboys Pizza, It’s Your Party, and Toby Bellocchi of Tobyco Builders.

Friday, October 23, 2009

$80 Million in CWS Cuts Detailed

Kinship Support Services Programs (KSSP) will receive a 12% cut in funding, the THP-Plus program will be cut by an additional 0.47%, and county Child Welfare Services allocations will be reduced by 9% according to FY 2009-2010 state budget details released today the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).

Two and a half months after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unexpectedly used his veto authority to cut $80 million from the Child Welfare Services (CWS) line item, CDSS announced the final determination of how those cuts will be apportioned.

At high risk for significant cuts, if not outright elimination, were programs funded by the state that include little or no county or federal matching funds, services such as KSSP and THP-Plus. The California Alliance of Child and Family Services

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nuestros Niños se Preparan para la Temporada del Frío y el Flu

Los días calurosos terminan, y con los días fríos empieza la temporada de resfriados y gripes. ¿De qué maneras mantener sanos a nuestros niños y familias? ¿Cómo prevenir y remediar los molestosos y peligrosos síntomas de los catarros y de las influenzas? ¿Tiene preguntas sobre las vacunas para la gripe de temporada y para la gripe H1N1? Traiga sus comentarios, consejos y consultas a la Dra. Marisol y sus invitados expertos.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 8:00 a.m.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Governor Signs Passel of Foster Care Related Bills

Among the legislation signed by Governor Schwarzenegger over the past week were a host of foster care related bills, including AB 665 (Torrico), the Alliance sponsored bill that permits federal adoption incentive funds to be used to support all types of permanence for older foster youth.

Governor Schwarzenegger released a statement saying he “signed a package of legislation focused on expanding and promoting adoption opportunities and increasing services for children in California’s foster care system.”
According to his press release, the governor stated, “Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment and this legislation will expand adoption programs and services to ensure that opportunity for California’s foster children. It is also important to provide youth with the right tools when they transition out of foster care and these bills help make that possible by improving their access to quality education and providing them with resources to be successful as independent adults.” CA Alliance E-news, 10/19/09

Friday, October 16, 2009

Governor Signs California Youth Connection (CYC) sponsored bill AB 1393

Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1393 late Sunday, a bill that will assist transitioning foster youth with housing as they work toward a higher education degree.

Specifically AB 1393 requests that the California Community Colleges, the University of California (UC), and requires the California State University (CSU) give priority to current and former foster youth for on-campus housing as well as priority for housing that is open the most days in a calendar year to ensure stable housing for foster youth throughout their college education.

Read more:

A Word From...

Jan Half, Executive Director, MOUSE Squad of California (MSCA)

"MOUSE Squad students learn many skills frequently cited by employers as keys to success in the workplace, including leadership, communication, teamwork problem solving and time management."

Learn more about MSCA:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Retirees can use career skills to volunteer

Steve Mercer spent 35 years with General Electric and Boeing, mostly developing executive talent jobs. Now, he's developing the math skills of a fifth-grader.

After developing executive talent, Mercer retired in 2004 and moved with his wife, Ning, to northern California from St. Louis. Troubled by reports that non-English-speaking kids were falling behind in school, he considered teaching English as a second language.

Then he noticed an article about Experience Corps ( looking for volunteers to teach reading and math. He called them, and with his engineering background, Mercer was put to work tutoring kids in math.

Now, twice a week, Mercer works with a fifth-grader.

"The hardest thing is getting kids motivated," he said, which is where his executive talent training comes into play. For his student, who loves football, he invented a game where the student can move the ball (a coin) down a hand-drawn field as he solves math problems correctly.

"You know you helped somebody take a step forward," Mercer said.

Read the full article:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Asperger's: My life perspective from a person, not a textbook

Robyn Steward is a young British woman with Asperger's who offers unique insight into this complex condition and relates her personal experiences to educate the community at large. She regularly trains professionals and mentors people with ASD. Robyn has lectured internationally, has presented at the House of Commons and has appeared on Channel 4 and the BBC.

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
San Jose, Santa Clara County
Sponsored by Parents Helping Parents

For more information, please visit

Friday, October 9, 2009


Rev it up for foster families and children
Saturday, October 17

Gates open at 3:00 p.m., green flag drops at 5:30 p.m.
Ventura Raceway @ Seaside Park
10 West Harbor Boulevard, Ventura

General admission cost $14
Groups of 50 or more can purchase tickets at $10 each.
All children 12 yrs. and under are admitted free with an adult paid admission.

Start your engines as Ventura Raceway drives hard to the chase to benefit foster children, siblings, and families through Aspiranet.

Who will take the checkered flag?

Participants in the Go-Kart Community Challenge include:

Sam Hishmeh, franchise owner of 17 Domino's Pizza stores
Dan Burrell, franchise owner of 8 Jersey Mikes Subs stores
Bryan Easterly of County Commerce Bank
Edward Baeza of United Rentals
Craig Goettsche Owner Operator Chik-Fil-A at Oxnard
Chris Raschke, ARP – Automotive Racing Parts

$2 from every admission will benefit Aspiranet.

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Community March: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Join the San Mateo County Domestic Violence Council for a community march, followed by a resource fair. Domestic Violence affects not only the women, men, and children who are being abused, but the entire community. Unite together on October 23 in a march again domestic violence, raise awareness in our country, and learn about local agency resources. Learn more:

Monday, October 5, 2009 Fact:

In 2007, 5.7% of California children had no health insurance, down from 9.4% in 2001. Learn more:

Friday, October 2, 2009

MOUSE Squad of California Expansion Creates Need for Northern and Southern CA Trainings

MOUSE Squad of California (MSCA), now in 70 sites, held three trainings in August and September, two in San Francisco/Silicon Valley and one in southern CA. Seventy-five MOUSE Squad instructor/faculty advisors, administrators, and technology industry volunteers learned MOUSE Squad implementation strategies and participated in teams to create engaging MOUSE Squad Module presentations. Each school received a “Computer In A Box” – a kit of internal components with supplemental Module 8 hands-on activities lesson plans, as well as the MOUSE Squad kit and materials.

After attending the training, an instructor/faculty advisor commented, “I attended the awesome training and am so impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of how it is run. The teachers and principals from schools that are already participating have very positive things to say about the success of this program in each of their schools. The MOUSE Squad program is the door that leads to having Technology be an important part of both teaching and learning in our schools.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SNBC Participates in the Sunset Community Festival

For another year, the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center helped put together and participated in the Sunset Community Festival in San Francisco. Now in its 15th year, the Festival was held at the Sunset Rec Center on Saturday, September 26.

The sun shone as hundreds of Sunset residents came out to enjoy a diverse array of performances, work on art projects, and learn more about Sunset resources. In honor of this year's theme, Celebrating Sunset Children and Youth, SNBC had a photo booth where children and adults could share what “I want to be when I grow up” and visually become a part of SNBC's logo. View photos from the event.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Aspiranet Offices Receiv HPRP Funding

Congratulations to Aspiranet Visalia and Fresno offices on being awarded with funding from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP)! These much needed funds will be used to help serve youth who previously would not have qualified for the Transitional House Program (THP) Plus.

In February, Congress passed a nearly $800 billion economic recovery package that included $1.5 billion for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). The Federal Government, through the Housing of Urban Development (HUD), has begun to distribute portions of this stimulus package aimed at providing support funding around critical issues like homelessness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Get your motor running!

Aspiranet, Robert Hall Winery to host motorcycle run in support of foster care, November 8

(CENTRAL COAST, CA) Aspiranet, one of California’s largest nonprofit adoption and foster care support organizations, and Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles are teaming up to host a Black Vest Affair Motorcycle Run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, 2009.

All proceeds from the event will directly benefit the Central Coast Chapter of Aspiranet.

“Not your normal run-of-the-mill charity event, this gathering of horsepower promises to be an escape from the daily grind for folks while benefitting foster children in the Aspiranet program,” said Deborah Masullo, owner of Doughboys Pizza and a member of the Aspiranet Central Coast Impact Council. “What could be better than pairing a leisurely motorcycle ride through the wine country of California’s Central Coast with good food, friends, and the road less traveled – all to raise hope for foster children?”

The charity ride starts up at 1800 Grand Avenue in Grover Beach, ending at Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, just in time to feast on a lunch prepared by Catering by Chef Charlie with live music and prize giveaways.

Ticket holders will have an opportunity to enter drawings to win a trip for two to Las Vegas, cooking classes from Catering by Chef Charlie, and other donated raffle prizes.

Sponsors include Robert Hall Winery, Catering by Chef Charlie, Rontal, Doughboys Pizza, It’s Your Party, and Toby Bellocchi of Tobyco Builders.

Headquartered in South San Francisco, the Central Coast Chapter of Aspiranet is at 200 South 13th Street, Suite 101, Grover Beach. For more information call 805.473.8760 or visit

To ride the wind:

$40 per person: includes ride, lunch, souvenir shirt, and raffle ticket
$30 per person: includes passenger or non-rider participation, and lunch

Advance purchase tickets only.
To purchase tickets, visit or call 805.473.8760.

Aspiranet Interview contacts:
Art Chaparro, Director of Development Aspiranet

Deborah Masullo, Impact Council
Aspiranet Central Coast

Media Contacts:

Consortium Media Services
Tina Vervoorn, ext. 117
Melissa Healy, ext. 116

Monday, September 21, 2009

Aspiranet hosts Andrus Family Fund West Coast Grant Recipients Conference Sept. 23-24

Aspiranet, one of the largest nonprofit adoption and foster care support organizations in California, serving thousands of foster children and families, will host an educational conference in South San Francisco Sept. 23-24, 2009, featuring non-profit organizations from the Western United States working with emancipating foster youth and community based groups.

Sponsored by the Andrus Family Fund, the conference will bring together similar agencies in a shared learning environment, specifically addressing the William Bridges Transitions Framework adapted by Aspiranet and other non-profits working with teens in foster care and recently emancipated teens.

Learn more at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Children, Youth and Elders Art Contest

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) is pleased to announce the 2009 Children, Youth and Elders Art Contest. All children, youth, and adults with experience in California’s foster care system are encouraged to participate. This year’s theme is A Lifetime of Love: The Importance of Friends, Family, and Belonging. Selected art submissions will be published in a 2010 calendar to be disseminated during Adoption and Permanency Month (November 2009). Art works will also be published in Co-Investment Partnership, Judicial Council, AOC, and CFCC printed materials. Submission Deadline: October 15, 2009. Learn more:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Legislative Session Ends: Child Welfare Cuts Retained

CA legislature did not act to overturn the Governor’s line item veto of $124 million in child welfare funding that includes money for THP-Plus housing program for emancipating foster youth and the Kinship Support Services Program, as well as for county child welfare caseworkers. CA Alliance

Friday, September 11, 2009

Laughter and Limits Workshop for Dads

Fathers, expectant fathers, and grandfathers are invited to this Hand in Hand parenting workshop to learn about setting limits with children and explore how play can build relationships. Saturday, Sept. 12, in Palo Alto.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

THP Youth Protest at Capitol Building

Aspiranet Transitional Housing Program (THP) youth are in Sacramento at the state capitol protesting against California State foster care budget cuts. An interview with Aspiranet THP youth to appear on Spanish channel Univision tonight at 6:00 p.m. More about Aspiranet THP:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bill to Help Foster Youth Passes out of Both Houses

AB 665 (Torrico), the California Alliance sponsored bill that will help many foster youth find lifelong permanent connections, passed out of both houses and was sent to the Governor for signature last Thursday.

The bill will ensure that federal Adoption Incentive Funds awarded to California for increasing the number of youth adopted out of foster care are distributed to counties to promote legal permanency outcomes such as adoption, reunification or guardianship for foster youth ages nine or older. These funds are to be used for innovative and collaborative approaches including post adoption services to avert adoption disruptions, family-finding to locate relatives willing to make lifelong connections to youth, recruitment of adoptive parents who will make homes for entire sibling sets, removing barriers to adoption, and other services and supports.

Adoption Incentive Funds cannot be used to supplant existing programs and cannot be used in programs that receive federal matching funds. Directing this money to counties, therefore, creates no fiscal impact on the State General Fund.
CA Alliance

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Medicating Young Minds

Free Class in Palo Alto Sponsored by Children's Health Council
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009

Does my child need psychiatric medication? What are the benefits, potential side effects and effects on long term development? Dr. Elliott recently authored Medicating Young Minds, a book for parents facing this difficult decision. He will address such disorders in children as autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression and bipolar disorder. He has a particular interest with those patients of clarifying the role of medications in reducing common symptoms such as obsessive behaviors, anxiety, depression, inattention and self-injurious behaviors.

For more information:

Friday, September 4, 2009

'Aged-out' foster youth at terrible risk

The phrase "at risk" gets tossed around a lot by educators and social workers. Nowhere is the buzzword more applicable - and more poignant - than in its description of foster youth who are "aging out" of the system at age 18… Schwarzenegger and legislators must work together to restore that $80 million for child welfare services. They should connect the dots, and recognize the much higher costs of the system's failings. San Francisco Chronicle, Read more:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Autistic teens get tutored in making pals

An estimated 1 in 150 American children has some form of autism. There's no known cure. Some research suggests autistic kids who get help early can overcome some of their deficits. But the social skills they learn as a toddler may not be so useful to a teen. Autistic teens now have the opportunity to get tutored in making pals. Read more:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One-Day Training Opportunity

Strategies is offering a one-day training which highlights five protective factors that help prevent child abuse and neglect while strengthening families and communities. Family strengthening is the new language to describe the field of family support. This evidence-based framework was developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy based in Washington, D.C.

The Five Protective Factors model focuses on: Parental Resilience, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Concrete Support in Times of Need, and Social and Emotional Competence of Children.

This training is for veteran and new family support workers as well as anyone in a position to nurture children and strengthen families.

Trainings in October and November in Blue Lake, Redding, and Madera.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Job Announcement

Job Announcement: Receptionist at Aspiranet South San Francisco Headquarters.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Panel Approves Bill Designed To Keep Kids in Healthy Families

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure (AB 1422) designed to prevent more than 500,000 children from losing coverage under Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Foster Care Stat

83,000 children are currently in the California foster care system.

Foster Care Statistic

78,278 children were in the California foster care system on July 1, 2006. Child Welfare Services Reports for California.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CA to Compete for "Race to the Top” Funding

Last Thursday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a proclamation convening the Legislature to meet in yet another extraordinary session, the fifth this year, to take the needed legislative action so that California can “compete for the largest pool of discretionary funding for education reform in U.S. history,” $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. CA Alliance

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family Economic Success and Stability Training

Strategies is offering a two-day training offering a practical, step-by-step guide to motivate and support your clients' journey toward financial self-sufficiency while preserving family strengths. You will learn how to match your clients' needs with a "wealth" of often underutilized local, state, and federal resources to help families achieve economic success.

Trainings in October and January in Emeryville, San Luis Obispo, Merced.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Prospective Foster Parent Training

Bakersfield, CA. Saturday, September 19th & 26th, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
For more information, please call 661.323.1233 and ask for Kathrine Parnell.
To learn more about Aspiranet foster care, please visit

Monday, August 24, 2009

Immunization Needs

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners presents Meeting the Immunization Needs of Infants and Toddlers in Foster Care: A Webinar for Foster Parents

September 29, 2009

To learn more or to register:

Friday, August 21, 2009

IES Guide Offers Recommendations for Improving Elementary Student Behavior

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has published a practice guide which offers recommendations for improving behavior among elementary students. Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom offers five key recommendations to help school staff identify and improve problem behaviors, as well as teach and reinforce new skills.

To view the guide, click here:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who done it? Solving a mystery for foster programs in Kern County

Sixties-themed fundraiser benefits Aspiranet, one of the largest nonprofit adoption agencies in the State of California, nets over $4,500.

(BAKERSFIELD, CA – AUGUST 19, 2009) Marilyn Monroe didn’t do it. Nor did Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Ginger Rogers, or even The Duke.

But for one night, on July 25, these pseudo celebrities from the 1960s came together to help solve a murder mystery for Aspiranet, a nonprofit charity supporting foster children, siblings, and families through 35 core programs, including those offered in Kern County.

Kathrine Parnell, a social worker and trainer employed by Aspiranet, is no stranger to murder mystery parties. In fact, she has planned quite a few for friends and family. This however, was the first time she had planned a Hollywood murder mystery party for charity, and Aspiranet.

“It was important to come together not only to raise awareness and funds to help our local foster children and families, but to also have fun,” said Jana Davis, Assistant Regional Manager for Aspiranet.

With about 60 people in attendance dressed as characters and Hollywood celebrities from the 1960s, Parnell said it was fun to see Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Groucho Marx, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, John Wayne, and Ginger Rogers having a good time and attempting to solve the mystery of fictional victim Jerry Oilman’s murder.

Conglas Mfg. and Cecil Valenzuela as event chairs helped to make the night happen, Parnell said, along with many other co-sponsors and volunteers standing in as coat checkers, valets, bartenders, and other roles.

By the end of the evening the party had raised over $4,500 for the charity, funds that will continue to promote services to more than 160 foster children in Kern County and those associated with Aspiranet’s Sibling Connections Initiative.

The innovative initiative is dedicated to reuniting brothers and sisters and placing them together with one set of foster parents to maintain family bonds when they might otherwise be separated. Not always an easy task, Aspiranet works closely with county agencies to find loving families willing to keep displaced siblings together through often traumatic situations.

Valenzuela said he is particularly committed to Aspiranet’s Sibling Connection Initiative because it hits so close to home.

“I grew up in a large family, one of 10 children,” he said. “My wife and I had four children of our own and also raised an additional four children, all nieces and nephews under the age of 12. We did it because they were family, but most of all because we could do it.”

In the end the mystery surrounding Jerry Oilman’s pseudo death was solved, with all fingers pointing to rock guitarist extraordinaire Jimi Hendrix.

Parnell said guests were so enthusiastic about the event that she is already planning another event for next year and hopes to make it an annual fundraiser.

Headquartered in South San Francisco, the Bakersfield offices are at 2603 G Street, Suite 100. For more information or to volunteer, call (661) 323-1233 or visit

About Aspiranet
Aspiranet, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity, supports foster children, siblings and families through its 35 core programs offering specialized services through 44 satellite centers within California. Its goal is to provide love, support, and understanding while bringing families together.

Founded more than 30 years ago as a six-bed group home for young boys in Moss Beach, CA, Aspiranet has evolved to become one of the most diverse private adoption agencies in California with a statewide network of innovative services that have touched the lives of over 10,000 families and children since its founding.

Aspiranet’s vision of bringing families together and helping foster children, siblings and parents thrive is realized through more than 35 core programs and services in six areas of expertise – Family Services, Adoption, Foster Care, Education, Afterschool programs and Community partnerships.

Day after day, the dedication, commitment, efforts, and renewed aspirations of the Aspiranet team make a profound difference in the lives of children and families throughout California. We invite volunteers and sponsors to gift time, money, or partnering to provide hope to children and families in need.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SNBC Hosted National Night Out BBQ A Success

On Tuesday, August 4, Aspiranet Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC) hosted a National Night Out event at its Rec Connect Center.

SNBC Director of Policies and Partnerships Michael Funk, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong, SNBC Rec Connect Program Director Ryan McCarthy, and Aspiranet CFO Lewis Overton, Jr.

The nationwide National Night Out campaign is a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. The campaign involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, over 37 million people participated in National Night Out 2008.

National Night Out is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

SNBC participated in the event with an open invitation to the Sunset Neighborhood to partake in free food, games, face painting, and music at SNBC's National Night Out BBQ! The event was held on a sunny afternoon at the SNBC Rec Connect Center, at which SNBC is working to strengthen San Francisco recreation centers as lively community hubs with new and improved programs for youth and their families.

To view a photo gallery of pictures taken at the SNBC National Night Out Community BBQ, please visit

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Monday, August 17, 2009

IOUs to End September 4

Finally, state Controller John Chiang (D) announced Thursday that the state will stop issuing IOUs on September 4, a month earlier than previously projected, after a review of projected state cash flow. Mr. Chiang, who has been a vocal critic of the governor and the legislature, began issuing IOUs, formally known as “registered warrants” in July when the state ran short of cash. His office has issued some 327,000 of the interest-bearing warrants totaling $1.95 billion. CA Alliance News

Friday, August 14, 2009

Calendar of Events Visalia

Foster Parent Orientation
Tuesday, August 4th
Thursay, August 20th
Tuesdays, September 1st, 8th & 22nd
Tuesdays, October 6th, 13th & 20th

All Orientaitons start at 5:30 and end no later than 7:30 . We do not provide child care during the Orientaiton so please make arrangements for your little ones.

PRIDE Training
Saturday, August 8th and 22th
Saturday, September 12th and 26th
October 3rd and 24th
All PRIDE trainings start PROMPTLY at 9:00 and end at 5:00. Please note that if you are
a two parent house hold that both parents must complete PRIDE for certifi cation and re-certification.

Safety Trainings
First Aid / CPR -Jan Sanders 739-1530
Water Safety -Heidi Connant 967-1278

Kids and Family Fun Day
Saturday, October 10th
Tulare Fair Grounds
Free Admission

Visalia Pumpkin Patch
In the month of October
Date to be announced

Aspiranet Bakersfield Foster Parents Become Adoptive Parents

Amy and Richard Gill of Bakersfield, CA have been Aspiranet foster parents since September 2005. Since then, their work with Aspiranet has included assisting an 18 year-old foster child transition to an independent living program for youth. Their efforts helped create permanent commitment to the youth and formed a lifelong connection with him.

On Friday, August 7, Amy and Richard proudly added two new members to their family! Through Aspiranet’s fost-adopt program, Amy and Richard adopted two twin boys, Tony and Michael. The occasion was notable in that through the adoption, Amy and Richard are keeping two brothers, who might have otherwise been separated, together – an important factor emphasized by Aspiranet’s Sibling Connection Initiative. Per the couple, “We are overjoyed to be welcoming these wonderful boys into our family!”

Pictured: Brittany Latherow (Amy's daughter), Amy, Tony, Michael, and Richard Gill.

To learn more about Sibling Connection Initiative, please visit

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bay Area PRIDE Trainings for Foster Parents

PRIDE Training Schedule

Oakland Trainings:
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Wed., Sept. 16th (Part 1a) 6:00–9:00pm
Thurs., Sept. 17th (Part 1b) 6:00–9:00pm
Wed., Sept. 23rd (Part 2a) 6:00–9:00pm
Thurs., Sept. 24th (Part 2b) 6:00–9:00pm

Antioch Trainings:
2615 Somersville Road, Antioch, CA 94509
Sat., Aug. 8th (Part 1a &b) 9:00am–4:00pm
Sat., Aug. 29th (Part 2a & b) 9:00am–4:00pm
Sat., Sept. 19th (Part 1a &b) 9:00am–4:00pm
Sat., Sept. 26th (Part 2a & b) 9:00am–4:00pm

Pleasant Hill Trainings:
3337 Vincent Road, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Wed., Aug. 5th (Part 1a) 6:00–9:00pm
Thurs., Aug. 6th (Part 1b) 6:00–9:00pm
Wed., Aug. 12th (Part 2a) 6:00–9:00pm
Thurs., Aug. 13th (Part 2b) 6:00–9:00pm

Please note that childcare will not be available
during the trainings. You are encouraged to attend
PRIDE Part 1 (1a & 1b) prior to attending PRIDE
Part 2 (2a & 2b). Both parts are required to become
a certifi ed foster parent. Please call Laura, Janice
or Ayesha at 925-753-2156 to RSVP.

View Aspiranet Bay Area Trainings in a larger map

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bakersfield Calendar of Events

Aspiranet Hosted Trainings

Foster Parent Orientation
Wednesdays 3:00-5:00 pm or Fridays 12:00 noon - 3:00 pm
Orientations offered daily as well if you cannot make the times above.
Please call for more information 661-323-1233 & ask for Marina

Pride Training
Saturday, August 8th 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday, August 22nd 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday, September 19th & 26th 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday, October 17th & Sunday the 18th 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Please call 661-323-1233 for more information on Foster Parent Training classes & ask for Kathrine Parnell

Foster Parent Training
Training is held every 3rd Thursday of each month

Sibling Relationships
Thursday, August 20th 6:00-8:00pm
Mandated for all Foster Parents who have Foster Children with siblings

Pride Follow-up
September 17th 6:00-8:00pm
Mandated for all families who have completed Pride Training

7 Core Issues of Adoption
October 15th 6:00-8:00pm
Mandated for all dual Foster Parents and/or those going through the adoption process
NOTE: If you have NOT completed the Pride Training, you will need to do so by November.

Outside Trainings

CPR-1st Aid Trainings
(661) 324-6427
Mondays and Tuesdays evenings 6:00-10:00pm
Thursdays 8:00am-5:00pm
Saturdays 8:00am-5:00pm
Dorothy Martinez (661) 833-0033 Call for information and times
Shelly Sprouse (661) 900-5960 Call for information. She will come to your home.

IEP Workshop
Saturday, August 29th 9:00am – 4:00pm
3101 N. Sillect Ave Suite 115
Call Dian at (661) 328-9055
ext. 256 for Reservations

Taft College Training
Foster/Kinship Care workshops –Call Mary Halberg for Schedule
(661) 395-4737

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ventura Aspiranet Calendar of Events

1838 Eastman Ave, #100
Ventura, CA‎ 93003
Tel: (805) 289-0120‎
View Map

Interested in becoming a foster parent?
Come to a Foster Parent Orientation/Information Session:
  • Every Tuesday in August from 6:00-8:00pm
  • Saturdays, September 12th and 19th, 10:00am-12:00 noon
  • Saturdays, October 3rd and 10th, 10:00am-12:00noon

PRIDE Trainings

  • Wednesday, August 12th 5:45–9:00pm
  • Saturday, August 15th 9:15am–12:30pm
  • Monday, August 17th 5:45–9:00pm
  • Saturday, August 22nd 9:15am–12:30pm
  • Sundays, September 20th and 27th, 9:00am–5:00pm
  • Tuesday, November 3rd 5:45–9:00pm
  • Saturday, November 7th 9:15am–12:30pm
  • Tuesday, November 10th 5:45–9:00pm
  • Saturday, November 14th 9:15am–12:30pm
  • Saturdays, December 5th and 12th, 9:00am–5:00pm

Aspiranet has adopted PRIDE as it’s pre-certification training for prospective foster parents and adoptive parents. PRIDE is an acronym for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education. PRIDE is a nationally recognized training that was created as a collaborative effort on the part of more than 150 foster parents, adoptive parents, social workers and educators.

The PRIDE training is beneficial for all foster and adoptive parents and Aspiranet is requiring that all currently certified foster families be trained in PRIDE. Families that have not articipated in PRIDE training during pre-certifi cation are required to have the PRIDE training by June 2010 as part of their continuing education training.

In July we had the first training in Ventura that combined pre-certification families with already certified families. The addition of the certified families to the training group enriched
the experience for all. As the trainer, it was great to have so many experienced families sharing their skills and experiences with the group. It made for a very enriching training. We often have had Foster Parents serve on the Foster Parent Panel during one hour of training which was always one of the best parts of training, and it is wonderful to now have Foster Parents share throughout the entire training. I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming PRIDE training!

Friday, August 7, 2009

What are the rewards of being a foster parent?

"The first time they say they love you."
"All of the hardship... is paid back time and time again by the smile on their faces..."
"They're part of your family and you love them, and they know that"
"You can't describe the joy you feel with these children..."

Become a foster parent, call 800-439-1905 or visit today!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

School Volunteers Discover Fountain of Youth Experience Corps Bay Area Seniors Gain Improved Quality of Life

From Grantee Magazine, a California Wellness Foundation publication
By Cathy Curtis

San Francisco-based Aspiranet (formerly Moss Beach Homes, Inc.)—which established the Bay Area site of the national Experience Corps program in 1998—received a three-year, $150,000 grant from TCWF in June 2006 for core operating support for an intergenerational, volunteer-based tutoring program that concurrently improves senior health.

“The goal behind creating a team of volunteers is that they see each other on a daily basis,” said Kaleda Walling, ECBA director. “This is a way for them to connect and share similar interests.”

Studies of Experience Corps volunteers show that the program provides multiple health and social benefits. The Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health surveyed volunteers who had participated in the program for four to eight months. These seniors said they were more active (63 percent) and felt stronger (44 percent). They had also made new friends and spent fewer hours watching TV.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

20 Things a Permanent Connection Means to Me...

1) A person that you will be able to talk to for the rest of your life.

2) Having someone or someplace to go to when I need to, at any
time, forever.

3) Someone or something that is there for you through all the good and all the bad.

4) Someone who is able and willing to help us learn the things that we should know, at that time in our lives.

5) A type of connection that will be with you or have permanently.

6) Someone who is there to help with things in my life.

7) Someone that you can trust.

8) A person you can trust that will help you in a time of need. Someone who is there to help me with the things in my life.

9) Someone who helps you reach your full potential.

10) Kicking back with someone that is cool.

11) Someone that is there when I am sad, angry, or just need something.

12) A person that is always there for you.

13) A person that can be there for you when you need a shoulder to lean on, support fi nancially, a home and advice.

14) Having a lasting bond to another individual.

15) Something that is permanent.

16) Being close, trusting someone.

17) Someone that will stay with you through thick and thin.

18) It is a connection that you make with a person, like a soul mate.

19) Someone that you spend that rest of your life knowing.

20) Someone that you stay in touch with.

~ As polled by current and former foster and probation youth ~ Fresno County Dept. of Children & Family Services - California Permanency For Youth Project Initiative

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Excell Center Residents Learn Valuable Lessons During Horse Weekend Trip

Slideshow to see photos of the Excell Center residents' experience:
On the weekend of July 10, six Excell Center residents participated in a much anticipated two-day horseback camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains. The trip was planned for the purpose of providing the boys with an opportunity to enjoy an outdoor summer trip while learning responsibility and teamwork.

The boys and staff kicked off the weekend with a six-mile horseback ride to their camping location at Henry W. Coe State Park. After arriving at the campsite, DreamPower staff member Cowboy Garry spoke to the boys about the importance of caring for their horses. He asked the boys to apply all of the knowledge they had gained during their prior training sessions, and join him in doing some chores. Together, the boys and staff fed, brushed, and watered the horses. After the horses had been tended to, the group went about setting up camp by constructing tents and collecting litter in the area. These chores instilled in the boys the value of responsibility and the power of teamwork.

Over the course of the weekend, Cowboy Garry cooked up delicious Dutch Oven-style meals using huge cast iron pots set between layers of smoldering coals. After each meal, the group worked together to clean up the campsite and conduct other various chores. In the evenings they gathered in a large circle to talk about the events of the day. The boys also took night hikes and did some star gazing. After returning from the hikes, the boys played cards together for an hour before settling down for the night, tired but content.

During the day, the group went fishing at a nearby pond where they caught large mouth bass that were immediately released with care back into the water. A park ranger also came to the campsite to talk to the group about outdoor survival, after which he kindly presented the group with a basic outdoor survival kit.

At the end of the weekend, the group packed up camp and road the horses back to the edge of the park. At the end of the journey the boys and Excell staff said goodbye and expressed their thanks to Cowboy Garry and the DreamPower staff. The Excell residents all enjoyed the trip very much, and hope to enjoy more outdoor activities in the future.

DreamPower Horsemanship, founded in 2002, provides therapeutic horsemanship programs and services.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fundraiser at Smokey's House of Barbecue to benefit programs for foster children, families in Ventura County

With a deep commitment to communities, Mike Christian, founder of Smokey's House of Barbecue restaurant in Oxnard, is helping to make a difference in the lives of children and families throughout Southern California.

View the full article in the Ventura County Star.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Foster Fathers: Making a Difference

by Marina R. Hernandez
Family Developer, Aspiranet-Bakersfield

On Father’s Day, we celebrate and honor those men who have played or are playing a significant role in our up-bringing. Fatherhood is more than just paternity, it is a role that one takes on, and with it comes the responsibility to care for and nurture a child or children. In honor of Father’s Day, Aspiranet, a leading fost-adopt program in Kern County, would like to acknowledge and thank all foster and adoptive dads who are fulfilling their fatherhood role by sharing their love, parenting skills, and support with the many needy children in our community.

Fatherhood takes effort and is a worthwhile and significant role that may often appear unappreciated. Yet, day in and day out, our foster and adoptive dads care and provide for their children to ensure a better life for them. Although paternity plays no role in the relationship, these fathers take on the responsibility courageously, recognizing that every child deserves a loving family and a place to call home.

One dad in particular has gone above and beyond the “fatherhood call of duty.” Tim Popplewell has been a dad with Aspiranet for the past 10 years and has worked with over nine children. Tim and his wife Julie, through their roles as foster parents, have helped two youths emancipate from the foster care system, and have become legal guardians to four of their children.

According to Tim, his motivation to continue on this meaningful journey is simple: “These kids are family, and it’s not that tough to become attached and keep going when you think of them that way.” As in any home, there are definitely challenges. However, Tim believes that the rewards of being a foster dad are well worth any challenge that comes his way. In fact, he states the most rewarding part of parenting children is, “when they identify you as dad, they respond to you as a dad, and want to be part of [your] family.”

Fatherhood is defined by Tim as, “raising kids to be successful and decent human beings, and when they leave this house, they are able to stand on their own two feet.”

Tim Popplewell is Raising Hope and Empowering Community.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Camarillo Moose Lodge Hosts High Tea To Benefit

On February 28, the Camarillo Moose Lodge hosted a High Tea event at the Camarillo Moose Family Center, in an effort to raise awareness of Ventura County’s children in foster care and of the need for more foster and adoptive homes in the community. The event, organized by Rebecca Thompson, Mary Fox, and Denise Parenteau, was produced as a fun event for the Women of the Moose with the goals of attracting new membership to the Moose Lodge as well as to raise funds for Ventura Aspiranet. The event was held at no charge to attendees, but those who came were encouraged to adhere to the suggested dress code of hats, gloves, and boas!

The atmosphere at the Camarillo Moose Lodge High Tea was that of another era – one during which ladies would gather and enjoy the company of one another for high tea. The event provided attendees with the opportunity to take time out of their busy schedules to socialize with old friends, make new acquaintances, and sip tea. A few men from the Loyal Order of Moose volunteered as butlers, serving the ladies hot water for their tea.

The tea cups and sugar-creamer sets were donated by the Halbert Estate for the occasion, and participants were invited to purchase tea cups of their choice to benefit Ventura Aspiranet. Special ribbons were tied to chairs unbeknownst to guests, and those sitting in the special chair at each table won the sugar-creamer sets on the tables.

Entertainment, games, raffles, and lots of prizes were given away, and every new Camarillo Moose Lodge member or renewed member received a vacation voucher for a 3-day, 2-night hotel stay. The current member to bring the most new members who signed up during the event won a 7-day, 6-night hotel stay.

The money raised at the Camarillo Moose Lodge High Tea will benefit the Ventura Aspiranet office for its plans to host a Foster Parent Appreciation Luncheon in May.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Experience Corps® Bay Area Featured on ABC-7 Bay Area TV

Retirees Inspire Inner-City Kids to Thrive
Experience Corps® Bay Area volunteers were featured on the evening news, demonstrating their engagement with children at San Francisco’s Malcom X Elementary School. Mentors, like Amanda Prescott and Barbara Thomas, explained that they enjoy helping children learn.