SAN JOSE, CA – On Tuesday, May 22, the City of San Jose presented the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) with a proclamation declaring the month of May as "Foster Youth Awareness Month." The proclamation is the first honoring youth in foster care from the city.
"Foster Youth Awareness month is a time to focus on creating a brighter future for more than 430,000 children and youth in Foster Care across the nation. In Santa Clara County alone there are approximately 1,100 children and youth in Foster Care, with only 436 homes available to house and care for them," said Councilmember Chappie Jones, District 1.
On hand to receive the award from Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmember Chappie Jones, were Chief Schools Officer Dr. Steve Olmos and Marilyn DeRouen Foster Youth Services Liaison from the SCCOE. They were joined by Bob Menicocci, County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency Director, Gabriel Montes, Resource Family/Foster Parent Recruiter and Derek Clark motivational speaker and a former Alameda County youth in foster care.
"I would like to thank Councilmember Jones and Mayor Liccardo for the proclamation of this month," stated Dr. Olmos. "Hopefully we can start with this proclamation and work together to address the needs of this population."
"By declaring May as Foster Youth Awareness Month in the City of San Jose, we are doing our small part to raise awareness of the dire need to serve our foster care youth and foster care families."
In addition to the proclamation, Councilmember Jones donated the use of the City Hall Rotunda for the Santa Clara County 2018 Foster Youth Awareness Month Celebration on that day. One hundred twenty-two youth and sixty-six community partners attended the event "Unity in Diversity" which celebrated cultural diversity of foster and homeless youth.
The events featured a keynote address by Derek Clark and additional guest speakers. The entertainment included a DJ, Persian dancers, Aztec dancers, the Gilroy High School choir, soloists, a drum circle, dancing, face painting, raffles and prizes for youth.
Community partners were on-hand for a resource fair, exhibitors included Evergreen Valley College, San Jose City College, Mission College, West Valley College, De Anza College, Gavilan College, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, Bill Wilson Center, Opportunity Youth Academy, SCCOE Foster Youth and Homeless Education Services, Department of Children and Family Services-Educational Services Unit, The Hub, Family & Children Services-LGBTQ Youth Space, TeenForce/SVCF, Work2Future, Year Up, Villara Building Systems, Public Health, Planned Parenthood, Legal Advocates for Children & Youth (LACY), Child Advocates of Silicon Valley (CASA), and SCC Registrar of Voters.
The event was co-hosted by the SCCOE Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program, Bill Wilson Independent Living Program (ILP) and Department of Family and Children Services ILP (DFCS/ILP).
"These agencies collaborated to create a successful program showing true partnerships that benefit the lives of the most vulnerable youth in Santa Clara County," stated Marilyn DeRouen.
"This event could not have been possible without the incredible talents, including exceptional skills for youth engagement from agencies and partners of Santa Clara County. We thank everyone for their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm at the Foster Youth Awareness Month events. We especially would like to thank Symantec, a Silicon Valley Corporation, and the Iranian American Mothers Team, both groups made significant contributions paying for catering, gifts and other items," added DeRouen.
Derek Clark also provided an inspiring workshop the next day at SCCOE entitled, "Why a Child Needs You to Believe in Them and Dispel Words and Labels That Kill Spirit." Attendees included district staff, community college staff, social workers, behavioral health specialists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and group home providers.
# # #
Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and Homeless Education Services (FYSCP/HES) provides services to children and youth in foster care and homeless situations. Services are designed to address their vital educational needs. FYSCP provides assistance and training to school districts and community stakeholders regarding the various educational laws that protect the rights of both foster and homeless youth. FYSCP/HES staff also works with group home providers, Juvenile Justice Department and the Department of Family and Children Services along with other agencies and organizations involved in the lives of foster and homeless youth.