We are a non-profit that supports foster children in Sonoma County
Non-profit striving to improve the lives of foster youth in Sonoma County. Our vision is a world where all children feel safe, have a sense of belonging, and have equal opportunities to become happy, healthy, and productive adults.
We are currently in a phase of renewal. After having to close our nurturing family-style homes for foster youth, we are now developing new programs, initiatives and collaborations to support foster youth and families in a new capacity.
Our history: The Children’s Village of Sonoma County was founded by Lia Rowley, a professional child care consultant with 30 years experience. Following the death of 12-year old Georgia Moses who was found murdered, Lia was moved to act on her vision to create a village that would provide a stable, nurturing environment for children and sibling groups in foster care. The Village was dedicated to Georgia’s memory. In 1999, with a small group of volunteers led by Lia, the Children’s Village was granted non-profit status. The work to get the Village built and licensed has been proceeding at a steady pace with two staff members and over one hundred volunteers working in more than a dozen committees.
In 2001, a $100,000 grant was received from the William Donner Foundation and a gift of a parcel of land was sold for $220,000 in 2002. These two major donations enabled the Children’s Village to enter escrow to purchase the site at Kawana Springs Terrace for the Village.
In the summer of 2005, construction of the Village began. The work toward getting licensed accelerated. In the spring of 2006, additional staff was hired in preparation for the opening of the Village. In August of 2006, the Children’s Village was licensed and celebrated its grand opening August 24, 2006.
For almost 10 years, the Village provided nurturing homes for foster children, including numerous groups of siblings who found a home here, together. With dedicated staff, on-site volunteer grandparents and an army of volunteers from the community, the Village seemed like the ideal model for housing foster children who did not have the option of living with a family. We were especially proud of the high achievements of our children and youth in school and the 100% graduation rate.
Unfortunately, a new California law, AB403, also called the "Continuum of Care Reform", is seeking to phase out group homes in favor of foster family homes (never mind that Sonoma County and many other places in California were already experiencing a shortage of foster homes). Consequently, the Village, which was categorized as a group home, was receiving fewer and fewer referrals of children. Finally, it had to close its doors in the fall of 2015. In 2016, the Village campus was sold.
However, the desire to help foster children never ceased, and the closing and sale of the physical village, as heartbreaking as it was, was not going to be the end of the organization. The Board and the newly formed Steering Committee started to explore how the organization could help vulnerable children most effectively in a new capacity. Members of the Board and the Steering Committee spent much of 2016 researching the specific needs, resources and services in the community and met with many other organizations. The goal was to identify and address unmet needs or partner with effective existing organizations, taking great care not to replicate any existing services.
As a first small step, the Sonoma County Children's Village established a fund to cover extraordinary costs for foster youth and families, including expenses not otherwise covered for medical, dental and orthodontic care, education, enrichment and things or services that help the placement of siblings in foster care together. The first two beneficiaries of this new fund are, very appropriately, siblings who are former residents of the Children’s Village. The fund enables them to receive orthodontic care and a boost in confidence through a lifetime of beautiful smiles.
In early 2017, the Sonoma County Children's Village finds itself in a phase of renewal and is developing new programs, partnerships and initiatives to support foster children and their families - but now without the physical village.
The Sonoma County Children's Village harnesses the power of community to provide a range of services to strengthen and support children and families, to help children heal from trauma, and to preserve the bond between siblings.