A Coming of Age Foster Family Agency (FFA) works with abused and neglected children providing placement in the homes of certified foster parents. The organization also provides support services including case management, counseling and behavioral health care. All the children placed with A Coming of Age have been evaluated as requiring more support services compared to most foster children because of specialized needs, greater problems or both. The organization serves between 80 and 100 kids in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties monthly.

The ultimate goal of the organization is to reunite the foster child with their biological family if it is supported by Child Protective Services. This requires gaining the trust of the children in their care and bringing them the stability they had not experienced.  A Coming of Age FFA also works with the biological families providing visits, training and any additional support they made need to succeed.

“Our greatest accomplishment is seeing a scared quiet child gaining the skills to speak on their own behalf,” the organization’s CEO and Administrator, David McCoy said. “Then it is to see that child and family grow in unison as they become comfortable accepting the help that is given to them.”

While resource families are sometimes willing to adopt the children in their care, it is more impactful when families can be made whole again, McCoy said. He often sees biological parents putting in the work to change for their children while their kids remain committed to their love for their parents and work on themselves.

A Coming of Age believes that by giving families and children the tools they need to reunite and remain together, they positively impact the community as well. Families dealing with trauma is a community-wide problem, not just in the foster system, according to McCoy.

“The way we fix that is to empower children and families as much as we can so that when their children get older, they don’t repeat the cycle,” he said. “We want to break those cycles so that those children can employ different skills than what they initially learned at home.”

Recently, A Coming of Age FFA received a grant from the Community Impact Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. While funding through the foster care system provides for food, housing and clothing, it only covers the minimum amount. Rates are based on the needs of child and 48% of those fees immediately go to the resource families to assist with the child’s needs. Without community support the organization would not be able to provide additional programs that give foster children experiences enjoyed by their peers. This includes holiday celebrations and group activities such as a trip to Disneyland.

A Coming of Age FFA is always in need of new resource parents willing to foster a child. Recruiting was difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. While a large number of the agency’s resource parents are located in Riverside and surrounding cities, there are families through both counties and always a great need for more.

Potential resource parents can start by attending orientation and training classes at the organization’s offices in the city of Riverside.  Further information about the requirements of becoming a resource family are available on the agency’s website.

McCoy also encourages community members to visit, meet the staff, and find out more about their work. He hopes that more people will gain a deeper understanding of foster care, its impacts and children they might help, even if it is just with a Christmas gift.

If you were ever thinking about how you could help a child in foster care, pick up the phone and call us,” said McCoy.

More information: https://www.acomingofage.org/ or (951) 776-9223

This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, March 2023.

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