On this the tenth day of National Foster Care Month we are launching a celebration of ten years of service to the foster care community. From a small group of therapists working only in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have grown to a network of private practice clinicians working in fifty large and small communities across the country. Because of the dedication of these social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and psychologists, well over a thousand children, youth, and young adults have received long-term, individual psychotherapy at no cost to them, their families, or the agencies responsible for their care.
The length and depth of treatment we offer is what makes A Home Within
different from most of the therapy foster youth receive. While we have seen positive changes in some aspects of foster care over the last ten years, there has been unfortunately little improvement in the mental health services available to youth in the foster care system.
An important impetus for the creation of A Home Within was our recognition of the destructive impact on foster children who repeatedly lost important relationships when the interns they were seeing in therapy graduated or moved on to a new clinic. Unfortunately, this continues to be the rule, rather than the exception.
Another aspect of mental health care that hasn’t changed is the frequency with which the emotional pain of foster youth is met with medication. “All I wanted was someone to talk to and what I got was pills,” is a comment we heard too often ten years ago, and one we hear even more often today.
It’s often said that the ultimate goal of every non-profit is to put itself out of business. It would, indeed, be a joyous occasion if I were writing to tell you that on our tenth anniversary we were closing our doors because what we offer is no longer needed. Instead, I’m writing to tell you that we intend to keep doing more and better of what we have been doing for the last ten years—offering high-quality, pro bono mental health services that create and strengthen the relationships of current and former foster youth and those who care for them.
Last year we provided over $1.2 million in pro bono professional services. We intend to do more this year and every year after that—“for as long as it takes.” I hope that your interest and support will continue and grow with us over the next ten years.
By Toni Heineman