Ready for Life Foster Family Agency 2016 Annual Report

 

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"Our children... Our Communities... Our Legacy..." A breakdown of stories, statistics, and events for 2016.

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Ready for Life Foster Family Agency ANNUAL REPORT “OUR CHILDREN... OUR COMMUNITIES... OUR LEGACY...” 2016

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Ready for Life Foster Family Agency is located in Redding, CA. We are committed to helping provide safe, loving homes for foster children in Northern California.

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 3 “There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.” -National Adoption Center Better Choices, Inc./Ready for Life, a private non-profit Foster Family Agency, has been committed to helping provide safe, loving homes to hundreds of foster children in Northern California since 2003. It is evident that Rick and Nena Panza, founders of Ready for Life, have a profound desire to see the children of our communities succeed. Ready for Life was established to provide children with vocational, social, and life skills while providing a safe haven for personal growth and physical care. “Our Children... Our Communities... Our Legacy...” Ready for Life Foster Family Agency is a faith-based organization, and as such, strives to support our families, children, and staff with daily prayer, guidance, and encouragement, as we endeavor to raise these precious children together. Our logo is a symbol of the transformation that can occur when children are placed in caring, structured, therapeutic homes.

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4 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT Letter from Board Chairman DAN HASKINS As the President and Board Chair for Ready for Life Foster Family Agency, I am pleased to share our 2016 Annual Report. I have the honor of working with my fellow board members and our CEO, Nena Panza in leading this amazing organization. As a member of the board for the past 10 years I now have a better understanding of our foster child care system, and the dedication and compassion of our staff who work so tirelessly to make a difference in a child’s life. During this past year, Ready for Life has maintained the highest level of service to foster children and foster families, while facing many changes and challenges with the foster care system. We continue to see an increasing number of children who are removed from their homes due to neglect, abuse, and abandonment in Shasta and other Northern California counties. It is an ongoing challenge for our agency to provide enough quality foster homes and financial resources to address the needs of our foster children. However, this past year we expanded our agency and our capacity to meet the needs of more foster children by moving to a new and more expansive location and by hiring additional highly qualified staff. As I hear the stories of the children, who are under the care of Ready for Life, I continue to realize what a vital role we play in providing a safe and nurturing environment. It is also such a joy when our children are successfully reunited with their family, or adopted by one of our foster families. Our success is truly a testimony of the amazing dedication of our Ready for Life leadership, staff, service providers, and foster families who give so sacrificially to all of the children they love and serve. As we look to 2017 we see Ready for Life as the primary option for foster children in the Shasta County region and beyond. And, we all see our calling to protect the lives of children who are vulnerable and unsafe. I invite you to read this report and consider whether you should be involved in helping these children by choosing to foster, adopt, volunteer, or donate. Your choice to be involved could make a significant and life-long impact in the life of a child, providing security and hope for a better future. Dan Haskins President and Board Chair

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 5 “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa Letter from CEO/Administrator NENA PANZA In 2016 I have certainly created ‘many ripples’ that have launched us into new territories never explored and I am thankful for the staff, foster and adoptive parents and our many volunteers who have helped smooth the waters throughout the year. We started the year jumping right in on our accreditation process with Council on Accreditation (COA) and closed the year with our first fundraiser, moving to another location and completing our COA site visit. Although the year proved to be a challenge at times with many ‘ripples’, we have seen many accomplishments. One of our goals in 2016 was to move into a bigger facility to accommodate our growing agency and to be prepared for what was to come. Our vision ultimately, would be to open a Child Care Center that would fill the gaps in child care for our resource parents. With the new facility, we now have the appropriate space, inside and out, to accomplish this goal. A challenge, during 2016 and ongoing, is finding more qualified families to work with specific children such as medically fragile, teen moms, Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and teenagers in general, has been especially difficult. Although our referrals from the various counties have stayed consistent, until we saw a drop in the last quarter of 2016, our struggle continues to be with having enough of a variety of families to take the majority of the referrals. This struggle is only made more difficult by the fact that our county has at least six other private foster agencies and the county marketing for the same homes. With all of that being said, I find myself still very much passionate about this work we call ‘foster care’. After starting this agency with my husband, my heart and soul will continue to “cast a stone across the waters” as I search for more and new ways to support and love on the families and children we serve. The more stones I cast the more ripples I can make! Again, I am eternally grateful for the staff, families and volunteers that can work with and keep up with all of the ripples coming their way. Nena Panza Chief Executive Officer

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6 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT HISTORY GOALS Better Choices, Inc./Ready for Life is a private, non-profit agency, founded in October of 2000. The idea was conceived after the founder, Nena Panza, along with her husband, Rick, had been resource parents for approximately ten years in addition to being group home parents to teen boys. After the realization that traditional foster care seemed to have a few flaws, Ready for Life was made a reality. In an effort to proceed with our mission, Ready for Life went under the umbrella of a larger non-profit to start its foster family agency. In July of 2003, Ready for Life Foster Family Agency decided to venture out on its own. With the help of many community members, our own Board members, and Tehama County (our support county), we began the journey. On September 11, 2003, Better Choices, Inc./Ready for Life was licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing unit. In addition to becoming a Treatment foster care provider, Ready for Life signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tehama County Department of Social Services on October 21, 2003 to provide Intensive Treatment Foster Care. We believe every child deserves a loving home. The primary goal is to meet the needs of children when out of home placement is necessary. We rely on our resource families to provide clear examples of a healthy, productive lifestyle. They teach children boundaries, choices, consequences, and social skills. In addition, Ready for Life requests that our families work intensively with our youth ages 15-22 years of age to give them the opportunity to be as fully prepared to live on their own as is possible. VISION Our vision is to touch and impact the life of every child we meet leaving a positive and enduring effect on their lives, and on the community in which they live. It is our hope and prayer to see each of the children entrusted to us, placed in local homes and connected to community resources so they are prepared for life outside the foster care system and become successful, empowered, healthy and happy, providing the communities with a lasting and authentic legacy. We strive to meet the needs of the children within the child welfare system by nurturing the connections made with resource families and the community. These connections create lifelong bonds and opportunities for permanency in the form of adoption, guardianship and long term foster care.

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MISSION READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 7 At Ready for Life, our mission is to touch the life of each child placed in the care of our resource families in such a way as to have a positive, lasting impact on their lives, as witnessed by their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. VALUES Ready for Life Foster Family Agency is a faith-based organization and, as such, strives to support our families, children, and staff with daily prayer, guidance, and encouragement, as we endeavor to raise these precious children together. PHILOSOPHY At Ready for Life, we believe treatment should be administered cooperatively between the Administrator, social workers, family workers, therapists, resource parents, the foster child, and their county social worker. If possible, the child’s biological family should be incorporated into the treatment plan as well. In addition to our therapeutic social work, counseling services will be made available to foster children when those services are deemed necessary. If need be, the resource parents are asked to make sure the foster child is in attendance at all counseling sessions. In the event problems arise such as transportation difficulties or the child refusing to attend, the resource parents will be responsible for contacting the agency or appropriate social worker to make alternate arrangements. All efforts will be made to provide the resource parents with an appointment time that will work with their schedule. The name, Ready for Life, exhibits what our philosophy states. Children’s needs should not only be met through “basic care” but also in teaching much needed vocational skills, social skills, and Independent Living Skills, thus the intended goal, preparing the children to be Ready for Life. Our logo is a symbol of transformation that a child in need can experience with the help and encouragement of the right resource parents. The circle is broken, s ymbolizing the “breaking of a dysfunctional life cycle.” The butterfly shows the spiritual transformation from within that they can experience. When combined, these symbols create a logo that represents our philosophy Ready for Life resource parents will be encouraged to participate in the child’s treatment. The social worker will be responsible for adequately informing both the foster child and resource parents of confidentiality issues. We expect that, at times, the foster child will become frustrated or upset because of issues discussed in counseling. Resource parents will be requested to document behaviors that are of concern after the child has met with their counselor. The resource parents will then be asked to provide this documentation if the social worker deems it is necessary. In those cases where the biological family is involved in the child’s treatment or a reunification plan is in effect, resource parents will be required to both support and encourage this process. It is our philosophy at Ready for Life that whenever possible, it is in the child’s best interests to maintain contact with their biological families.

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8 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT New Location 2016 was a year of growth and laying a foundation for the coming years. In October, we moved into a new building, creating more space for our growing family! We are so grateful to the many volunteers that have helped us move in, organize donations, and make this new building feel like home. Our current project is organizing a donation closet. Each child that comes into care has a different story. Some come into care with clothes and toys, but many come with only the clothes on their backs. Our desire is to partner with families so each child has a loving home, but also to help equip those families practically with what they need for the child. We have a library of books children can borrow or read here. There’s also a training room for resource families to learn new skills and grow in pre-exisiting ones. Our trainings range from topics like self-care and marriage to taxes and specific challenges a resouce family may encounter. We also host support groups and events in this space as well. Each of our visit rooms is decorated with a fun theme and is filled with games and toys for families to play with while visiting with their children. 962 Maraglia St Redding, CA 96003

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 9 A Year in Review We believe children are more than numbers, but every number represents a child. Ready for Life had 102 children in care in 2016.

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10 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT Gabriella, Sophia, and Renny were adopted by the Froiland family in June. Success Stories: Adoption Olivia was adopted by the Erickson family in April. (See Above) The Adoption Wall in our office features families that have adopted children through the fostering process. (Bottom Left) Jonah was adopted in October by the Williams family. (Bottom Right) “They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all my heart.”

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 11 A HAPPY SAD DAY “It’s a happy/sad day in our home. We just said goodbye to the sweetest little one-year-old bundle of joy. She couldn’t pass a mirror without staring at her own reflection, laughing and talking and sticking her tongue out. The other day she sat in front of a little miniature piano and patted on the keys for an hour. This morning, my heart melted as I got to hear her say hi for the very first time. Who needs TV when you have 21 pounds of pure entertainment? Our 22nd foster child, she was our first with Downs Syndrome, and we would gladly have another dozen just like her. Although some social workers tell us we shouldn’t fall in love with our little ones, we think we can’t really help them heal unless we give all of ourselves. Yes, our hearts ache because we already miss her. The happy part is that she is going home to her mommy and it’s right and good. We have also been asked to continue as foster grandparents and are so excited at the opportunity to watch her grow up. Every day we will pray the Lord will watch over her, bless her and keep her safe..” -Her Loving Foster Family Success Stories:“The happy part is that she is going home to her mommy.” Reunification A STORY OF RESTORATION In foster care, a child has a home for an undetermined amount of time. The goal is most often reunification. Although it is sad for a foster family to see a child leave their home, it is also exciting to see a family restored. “This year, we were celebrating with each other at the Ready for Life Foster Family Agency Christmas party. As children were running around, making crafts, eating snacks, and taking pictures with Santa, a social worker’s car pulled into the parking lot. A little girl was coming into care that night. She was buckled into a car seat, terrified of everything. When the social worker went to help her out of the car seat, she clung tightly to her. The little girl squeezed her eyes shut when she was scared to block everything out. For the next forty-five minutes, her new foster mom sat in an office with the little girl wrapped firmly around the social worker, talking softly to her. Slowly the child transitioned to her foster mom, finally feeling safe. The little girl went home with her foster mom and lived with her new foster mom, dad and sister. In August, this little girl went home to her mom and they are doing well. They reconnected with her foster mom and foster sister a few weeks ago. When the little girl saw her foster sister, she froze and her jaw dropped open. The girls ran at each other, hugging and giggling and trying to pick each other up from excitement! They spent the day together playing and the foster parents were asked if they would have a continued relationship with the little girl and her family, which the foster parents gladly agreed to! We are so blessed to have been a part of this child’s story and honored to see families restored and lives forever impacted by open hearts and homes.”

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12 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT Success Stories: Transitioning Youth We are so proud of all the youth who have graduated and are doing well working, going to school, or both. Here is an update on one of our graduates. Ivy lived with Loren and Kim for four years and they became a strong support system for her.  She enjoyed spending time with them, watching movies, playing cards, and going fishing at the lake. Ivy graduated from Enterprise High School in June 2016. She spent the following weeks preparing for her departure to Fort Lee, Virginia. In July, Ivy began basic training for the Army. She was resilient, disciplined, and determined through this process. She overcame many physical and mental challenges and passed basic training. Ivy is now stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, serving our country and continuing to grow into a strong, independent, successful young adult.  Ivy keeps in touch with her foster parents by phone and stayed with them during her Christmas break. Loren and Kim did not just provide Ivy with a foster home, they gave her a place to always call home. “There is no better gift to give a child than a family.” -Anonymous

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 13 Events fEafialvnomednriyeluie!sy:sTethaorrgowueetghhheoorl.udLtietfehveeisnyntesoatrofuycnooutnocnadenoct JANUARY Roller skating and eating pizza at Viking Skate Night QUARTERLY Making crafts and watching a movie on Date Night JULY Playing in the sand and soaking in the sun on Lake Day OCTOBER Dining and giving away raffle prizes at the “Broadening the Legacy” Dinner DECEMBER Meeting Santa, doing crafts, and eating treats at our Christmas Party

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14 | READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT Broadening the Legacy Fundraiser Dinner 2016 was the year of our first big fundraising event.  “Broadening the Legacy” was chosen as the name for the event to convey the goal of raising funds to expand the foundational services provided by Ready for Life.  As 2016 was a year of profound growth and preparation for continued expansion, donors were asked to financially partner with our agency and be part of broadening the legacy we leave with each child and family we serve as a foster family agency and as we move raised overinto providing adoption and child care services.  Our first event was a wonderful success and we are extremely grateful for $ 1 1 , 0 0 0each helping hand and heart who gave time, energy and resources to make this event a success and continue to legacy of service we strive for. Photo Credit: Katie Watkins Photography

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READY FOR LIFE ANNUAL REPORT | 15 Donors Thank you to the following for specific donation items all throughout the year: Those who attended, gave raffle prizes, and donated at Broadening the Legacy Dinner. Those who showed support through Dining for Donations. Those who donated gently used clothing, car seats, cribs, strollers, toddler beds, toys, school supplies, etc. (Top) Coca-Cola donated bikes and toys to each child for Christmas . (Right) Project Linus makes sure every child that comes into care receives a blanket to take with them to their foster home. (Left) Patients from Peery Family Chiropractic purchased presents for each child from the Christmas snowflake tree. CORPORATE SPONSORS Liberty Tax - Peery Family Chiropractic - Dollar General in Palo Cedro - T and S DVBE INC - Sierra Pacific Foundation- Rader Excavating Inc - Wagenfuhr Timber Falling - NorCal Pacific Insurance - DBA Sunshine Floorcovering - Cornerstone Community Bank - Studio 7 - Kristi’s Front and Center Dance Studio - Sun Oaks - Shasta School of Cosmotology - Stimpel-Wiebelhaus - Riverview Golf Course - Fabulous Fixin’s - Furniture Depot Rocking S Creations - Look-A-Live Taxidermy - Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Katie Watkins Photography - Redding Bank of Commerce - Wells, Small, Fleharty & Weil, Redding Bank of Commerce - Reiner & Slaughter, LLP, Tullis, Inc - PG&E - Budget Blinds - Shasta Family YMCA -Les Scwab Tire Center, Susanville - Tractor Supply, Miss Bella’s Boutique - Rare Air- Total Image Salon - Heather Armstrong Photography - Jones’ Fort - A Taste of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute - Simonis Tree Farm - Glamorous Day Spa- Aqua Golf - Cake is the Best Part - T.G. Perfusion - The Dip 3579 clothing items donated $19,238 donated Volunteers We can’t thank our volunteers enough! They make things happen and we are so lucky to partner with them. Whether it is organizing donations, assisting with childcare during trainings, or helping out at events, there are so many ways to contribute! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, please contact Angie at 530-222-1826 or angie@readyforlife.net.

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