Helping infants and toddlers in need
By Jennifer Coburn
May is National Foster Care Month and is a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
Angels Foster Family Network is celebrating the month by having its annual gala May 12 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, located at 326 Broadway, Downtown.
Supporters of the nonprofit organization will don their flapper dresses and bowties as they dance the Charleston at the “Putting on the Ritz” 1920s-style gala.
The goal: to raise $340,000 to support the organization’s work, creating stable, loving homes for infants and toddlers in foster care throughout San Diego County.
On the host committee is Downtown philanthropist, Stephanie Rolewicz, who currently serves as chair on the board for Angels.
“We are looking forward to a fun night raising awareness in support of foster care in San Diego,” Rolewicz said. “Angels is an incredible organization that focuses on caring for children 5 and younger with safe, supportive, and nurturing families. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Angels is building that village for foster children in San Diego.”
Founded in 1998, Angels Foster Family Network has a unique and successful approach to fostering infants and toddlers.
Unlike traditional foster care, Angels places only one child or sibling set with each of their families and provides round-the-clock support ensuring everyone receives the best support and care possible.
In return, the family willingly commits to the stable care of each child placed with them until they reunify with their biologic parent(s) or are adopted.
This approach ensures every child receives the individualized attention they need and deserve without the harmful effects of being shuffled between several different foster homes.
“We know that being able to properly bond with adult caregivers fosters healthy brain development in infants and toddlers,” said Jeff Wiemann, executive director at Angels Foster Family Network. “This leads to numerous social and economic benefits for the children — and for the entire community.
Research consistently shows that children raised in safe and loving homes are more likely to succeed in school, in the workplace, and lead productive lives as adults. Our evidence-based education and support programs help create positive settings for infants and toddlers while their biological parents are given the time to get their lives back on track.”
Wiemann has seen this first-hand. Before he became executive director at Angels, he was a foster parent to a baby boy he watched thrive in his home.
“My wife and I picked him up at the Polinsky Children’s Center and he was clearly traumatized, but our family nurtured him and worked with his biological family until he was adopted by his grandmother,” Wiemann said. “Saying goodbye was difficult but we are still very much a part of his life and enjoy a close relationship with his family.”
Thanks to event sponsors, a large number of the nearly 70 current Angels foster families will be hosted at the event and recognized for the incredible contributions they make in the lives of young children.
In conjunction with Military Spouse Appreciation Day, also on May 12, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Johnathon Stone will be recognized as well. Chief Stone will be honored on behalf of his late wife, Sarah Stone, who passed way last October. The Stone family fostered with Angels and remain deeply dedicated to the organization and its mission. One of Sarah’s last requests was that the family stay involved with the agency that offered them the opportunity to foster — then adopt — their son, Jackson.
The nonprofit organization also gratefully acknowledges the evening’s presenting sponsor, ExpressMed.
Angels Foster Family Network is a 501(c)(3) charity / foster family agency (FFA) licensed by the state of California with a mission to provide collaborative care for children aged 5 and younger with diverse and exceptional families who dedicate themselves to each child’s wellbeing. To get involved or to make a donation, visit angelsfoster.org. To learn more about foster care month, visit childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth.