MODESTO (CBS13) — The search is on for families willing to make a difference in a young person’s life.
The Stanislaus County Probation Department and a local nonprofit are working together to find permanent homes for teens who have been forced to be apart from their birth families.
Angel Fuentes, 23, was a troubled youth and had many run-ins with police. He spent most of his life in juvenile hall until a foster family changed his life.
“Being in a stable home means everything, at least to me now. At the time you really don’t think about it. You think you know everything at the age of 13, 14, 15, you think you’re so wise, but it’s not always the case,” he said.
Most young people on probation are often placed in group homes because of the lack of available foster families. It’s a problem foster care advocates say is getting worse.
“There is a crisis in this state, and there is a crisis in this nation for foster families, and in particular there is a crisis for families that are willing to work with adolescents,” said Jeannie Imelio, chief operating officer at Aspiranet.
Aspiranet is a nonprofit organization working with the Stanislaus Probation Department. Together, the agencies are looking for adults who are willing to serve as foster families to help reduce those numbers.
There are 50,000 young people in foster care in California – close to 1,000 are here in Stanislaus County.
Leaders with the agency say children who have to live apart from their birth families are most successful in a nurturing family home. Foster parents, they say help children develop permanent connections which gets them engaged in school and employment.
“We have partnerships throughout different providers in our community to have them teach them skills that are going to get them ready for that transition,” said Alma Garcia-Mendoza, transitional program director at Aspiranet.
For Fuentes – having a foster family has given him a second chance.
“Having parents there to constantly remind you that you can do something, make something of yourself for your future, that what really benefited me in my situation,” he said.
The agency works hard to match children with the needs and opportunities a family brings forward. They say not every family is right for a young person, but when a match is made, everyone benefits.