Santa Rosa foster home in danger of closing

March 11, 2014 12:21:26 PM PDT
A unique foster home in Santa Rosa is in danger of shutting its doors for good because of a new law designed to help foster kids transition to a home-like setting.

The Children's Village of Sonoma County is a unique cluster of small houses for foster kids and their siblings.

Nineteen-year-old Breana Miller and her brother and sister lived here four years.

"This place keeps siblings together; the state says they try to do that, but they don't try hard enough," she said.

Breana says it was a loving environment where she got help with life skills, even after leaving the system.

"Our premise to keep kids together is working well; I see small miracles happen every day," Executive Director Anjana Utarid said.

Utarid says The Village has served 57 foster kids since opening in 2006. But a new state law limiting long-term placement of foster kids in group home settings could force the village to close.

"It would be an atrocity to close The Village," Utarid said.

The Village gets 75 percent of its funding from the state. They need 24 kids to cover operating costs but only have 16. Referrals have dried up.

"Most kids have a safety net, they can go back home; foster kids don't have that but we give that to them," Utarid said.

The Village has been classified as a group home but directors want that status changed, so they're appealing to local and state officials for help. In the meantime, they're collecting private donations on their Facebook page. It was donations helped build The Village after the unsolved murder of foster child Georgia Moses in 1997.

"If not for this place I wouldn't be where I am now," Breana Miller said.

Miller has a job and is going to junior college. She hopes other foster kids get the same opportunities she did.


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