Statewide legislators and other high-profile officials are clamoring to read out the names of thousands of waiting foster children on the steps of the state Capitol today, a demonstrative effort spearheaded by Mission Focused Solutions, a Nevada County nonprofit of national scope.
“It all started from this little tiny Nevada County we call home,” said Gail Johnson Vaughan, executive director of Mission Focused Solutions, on the 25-year commemoration of National Adoption Month.
“The event has actually brought awareness of foster care children that are awaiting families,” Johnson Vaughan said. “It is a chance for those nameless and faceless kids and changes them from statistics to human beings and real children and makes legislators more open to changes in our system.”
The “Calling Out of Names of Children Who Wait” will feature dignitaries, including Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency Director Jeff Brown and many others.
Accompanying the vigil are large portraits from the Capital Heart Gallery, an exhibit of waiting children from around the state.
“These are children who are waiting and ready to be adopted,” Brown said. “Each individual is going to read out approximately 100 of the children and youth across California for adoptive families.”
Nevada County is home to 102 of the 59,000 California children in foster care. Thirty-five of those Nevada County children are in need of permanent families, and 33,000 wait for families statewide, according to Mission Focused Solutions.
“There are now half as many children in foster care as there used to be,” Johnson Vaughan said. “There have been significant legislative changes.”
The Nevada County nonprofit advocates to identify barriers that prevent children and youth in foster care from achieving permanent families and empower child welfare agencies to remove those barriers, Johnson Vaughan said.
Some of the past barriers that were broken down include allowing adoptions of youth 3 years old and older, expanding adoption qualifications to include single parents and alternative couples and providing financial assistance to adoptive families.
“We continue to have biases against older children. That is a really big thing,” Johnson Vaughan said. “Tweens and teens definitely need families to help them negotiate those difficult years.”
Today’s name reading will begin at 11 a.m. and last four hours.
The public is invited to witness the vigil.
For information about the event or the adoption process, call Mission Focused Solutions, 530-477-2900 or visit http:// missionfocused.org.
“If people want to know more, they can certainly call me at Mission Focused Solutions, and I can direct them in the right direction,” Johnson Vaughan said.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.