Sacramento Children's Home: Opening Doors to the Future
Jan 29, 2018 11:16AM
For most of its first 100 years, the Sacramento Children’s Home operated as an orphanage, founded in 1867 to care for destitute children living along the riverbanks. Later, as orphanages were phasing out, the home refocused to become part of the foster care system, keep children with families, and focus on prevention and early intervention. When it first opened, about 100 children were housed—last year, its 150th, they served nearly 7,000 children and 4,600 families. “The area’s longest-serving nonprofit,” says Todd Koolakian, director of philanthropy, “…has grown to become Sacramento’s most comprehensive child and family services agency.” Small wonder the organization was named the 2017 California Nonprofit of the Year.
The organization’s longevity is partly a result of its continual commitment to meet the changing needs of the area, Koolakian says. “Every year we look at ourselves and reflect whether what we’re doing is addressing the kids of our community. As the community’s needs have changed, so have we.” With 200-plus employees and more than 800 volunteers, the home operates eight programs to help children and families struggling with homelessness, mental health problems, and abuse.
• Mental health issues are addressed through an Advocacy Program and a Counseling Center with outpatient treatment for Medi-Cal-eligible children ages 2-21 and their families.
• Two Crisis Nurseries offer emergency care for children (from birth to 5 years old for up to 30 days at a time) and help parents resolve family needs.
• A Residential Treatment Program temporarily houses abused and neglected boys ages 6-19 to prepare them to move to a foster home.
• An Education Program offers educational after-school activities for the boys living at the home.
• Early Violence Intervention Begins with Education (eVIBE) helps kids and families develop safer, healthier relationships at school and home.
• Three Family Resource Centers strengthen families through education, intervention, and social support, and teach parents nurturing skills.
• The Wraparound Program supports families to ensure children are received in a safe home. “The whole being of our organization,” Koolakian says, “is built around providing safety to children.”
All of the services are free, funded mainly by grants and donations, an annual crab feed (scheduled for February 24 at the Folsom Community Center), and the Casa Garden Restaurant. Founded in 1974 on the home’s grounds near Curtis Park, the restaurant is staffed almost entirely by volunteers and serves fixed lunches each weekday, with proceeds going to the home.
The success of the nonprofit’s programs, Koolakian says, is different for each person. “Young men and women who lived with us are now successful members of the community; children that have received counseling or therapy are more capable of living independently; families on the verge of breakdown are thriving.” Koolakian cites the home’s motto: “Giving children a better tomorrow,” and adds, “We’re very passionate about what we do.” kidshome.org