Foster care program in jeopardy of closing

July 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The decline in charitable giving because of the bad economy may mean the end for a program designed to make the lives of thousands of Bay Area foster children a little bit better.

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The once-thriving Foster a Dream program is on the verge of closing its doors -- for good.

Lori Cohee never dreamed it would come to this. In 2002, Cohee founded Foster a Dream to spare young people the hardships she endured as a foster child.

"Every difficulty that I had as a child growing up in foster care is the foundation for which this organization was built," said Cohee.

It's a program funded entirely by private donations.

Foster a Dream has helped 10,000 Bay Area kids with services counties don't pay for like money to play sports, help with school, college scholarships ? even a special pillow and blanket.

Zionya Nolan became a foster child at age seven. She found Foster a Dream at 17, and now she's starting college.

"I learned how to use a computer, helped me graduate high school," said Nolan. "Just a bunch of different activities like galas, they've dressed me up and helped me change myself and become a young woman."

Two years ago, Cohee had a $500,000 annual budget, but now donations have disappeared.

Foster a Dream was supposed to help fill the gap after Contra Costa County recently laid off 100 social workers.

"Their ability to raise money is now depleted. It kinds of sends a message that who else is out there that can step up and help this population," said Don Graves from Contra Costa Family Services.

Things are so bad at Foster a Dream, they're getting ready to sell many of the things that were donated to them; all in an effort to raise at least a little money, to keep their doors open a little longer.

Cohee knows if no new funding comes through by the end of the month, her dream will end.

"It kills me as a society, just because times are tough, turning our backs on these kids," said Cohee.

Related link:

  • Foster a Dream

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