Success is different for everyone. Stanford Youth Solutions is committed to empowering solutions where solutions didn’t seem possible. The real measurement of the work we do with young people and families is whether they left our programs having overcome challenges and created a brighter future.
Parents Denise and Richard Torres thought they were out of options and didn’t know where to turn. The past two years had been a series of intense and escalating behaviors demonstrated by their son, Angel.
Angel had experienced bullying at school that triggered and compounded his stress level, until it became completely unmanageable. “We had the cops out here every other day. There were lots of violent outbursts, suicide attempts and frequent visits to Sacramento County’s crisis mental health center,” Richard says. “I thought I had lost my son and failed as a father.”
Gymnastics fan and bright 13 year-old Katelyn began feeling less and less like your average tween. “She wasn’t making the best choices and didn’t feel the greatest about herself,” said mom, Linda. Katelyn was having trouble controlling her emotions, she would act out by hitting rather than using words to express herself, which caused problems at school and with her peers.
Growing increasingly frustrated and worried about her daughter’s behavior, Linda sought advice from the family’s pediatrician who recommended she look into the programs at Stanford Youth Solutions. The counselors at Stanford were able to teach Katelyn ways to communicate her needs safely at home and at school. “She thinks before she acts now,” said Linda. “She uses words to express herself and she’s learned great coping skills for when words aren’t enough.”
Diamond grew up in and out of group homes. She had suffered abuse, neglect and participated in risky behavior. She ran away from her group home and thought she had no other option than to live on the streets.
About two years later, Diamond reappeared at her old group home, pregnant and alone. Living on the streets was a rough existence and Diamond was dealing with a lot of anger issues. She began working with Stanford Youth Solutions and was determined to succeed.
When Connie began caring for her ailing mother, she found out her brother was about to lose custody of his children. Rather than see her niece and nephews become wards of the court, she took over custody and eventually adopted them, including her nephew Stacey. When Connie’s mother passed away, she also took over guardianship of her mom’s adopted children. So this meant that Connie had as many as ten children under her care at one time. Some of the children ended up with other family members and Connie settled in with a more manageable family of five.
The stress and instability of his childhood had affected Stacey deeply. As a young teen, he began staying out late at night and experimenting with drugs. He got caught for vandalism and for helping friends steal a car. He wasn’t going to school regularly and tensions were growing between Stacey and Connie.
“I have a future, thanks to Stanford Youth Solutions,“ says LaDauwn. LaDauwn is a recent graduate from our Wraparound program. “Growing up in Oak Park, having a mother using drugs, no contact with my father, my life was not easy. I’ve been abused, neglected and believed I had no future, and I didn’t care. I’ve been told I’m nothing and I believed it. I began using drugs, fighting and ended up bouncing from juvenile hall to group homes with no real connection to my family, friends, or school.
Jesus came to Stanford Youth Solutions not willing to talk about his challenges until he saw our Expressive Art and Play Therapy room. Using art therapy as part of his treatment plan, he decided to create a video to describe what it is like learning to safely experience and take control of his feelings.
16-year old Myeisha was referred to Stanford Youth Solutions from the Minor Emergency Response Team (MERT) unit of the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center after being admitted against her will for being out of control and threatening her mother with a knife.
It wasn’t until 16 year-old AJ ran away from his Stockton group home did he find his way back to permanent family. Knowing he had an adult sister in Sacramento, AJ walked alongside the freeway alone and in search of a better life.
His troubled past included abondonment from his mother, and the loss of his father to a terminal coma. There was no one to care for him.
Ashlee escaped a life of instability, neglect, and abuse. Today, she exudes confidence and wisdom beyond her 20 years.
At age 16, her mother abandoned her. She did not know her father. Ashlee had no place to go and no family to care for her.
The rest of Ashlee’s story would not be possible without the generosity of Stanford Youth Solutions supporters. Through Stanford Youth Solutions’s Family Finding services, Ashlee rediscovered her father, who invited her to live with him in Phoenix, Arizona.
10-year old Robert was already on his sixth foster home when he came to Stanford Youth Solutions. Following regular threats to hurt himself, Robert was always moved to a new foster home—but “Mrs. Robertson” was different.
Though a first-time foster parent, Mrs. Robertson refused to give up on Robert, even when he ended up in the Minor Emergency Response Team unit of the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center for threatening to harm himself.
When Brian came to Stanford Youth Solutions, it was his chance to get out of long-term, institutional care and re-establish connections with his loving family. Brian was born with developmental disabilities, coupled with mental and behavioral health challenges, which led him to an early introduction to the child welfare system. Having been removed from his home at a young age, his parents’ hearts were broken. They simply could not handle his challenges on their own.
When Sarah was born, her mother tested positive for narcotics and as a newborn Sarah was often left alone in an apartment without heating or food. At one year old, she was placed into foster care and a year later, she was told she would be adopted by another family. Sarah became nervous at the thought of moving again and began exhibiting signs of aggression. She didn’t know how to express her feelings appropriately so she began acting out negatively. Sarah was moved through three adoptive families but all were unable to handle her impulsiveness and aggression.
Teenager José knew he was going down the wrong path. Problems in his family life and too many dealings with the juvenile justice system threatened his bright potential. It seemed like he had nowhere to turn.
With Stanford Youth Solutions, José was able to make progress where other interventions had failed in the past. With the assistance of a bilingual therapist, José and his family worked their way through Functional Family Therapy, an evidence-based process that empowered his family to better communicate and cooperate towards shared goals.
Susan had worked with many social service agencies in the past and knew where to go to keep her family together when her son, Jason was placed into a residential facility. Jason had serious behavior issues and was finding it difficult to attend school. The family turned to Stanford Youth Solutions to help meet their needs while working as a team to bring Jason home again.
“Our family had a lot of financial blows and illness,” says Susan. “Stanford Youth Solutions went above and beyond what was required. They taught me how to budget and sat next to me when I called creditors.
It can be hard for us to imagine what it must be like for an eight year-old girl to live a life filled with abuse, an incarcerated father and violent confrontations with a stepmother… but that’s exactly how Jane spent her childhood. Between her frequent threats to commit suicide and running off school grounds, Jane was at risk of being separated from family and placed in a juvenile facility.
Stanford Youth Solutions matched Jane with specialized staff that facilitated individual and family therapy, as well as services to reunite Jane with her biological mother and sister.
Instead of day dreaming about dances and cheering for the football team, high school student Michelle struggled to deal with mental health challenges that were tearing her family apart. She was unable to effectively communicate with her mother and Michelle’s dangerous behavior had caused her to be placed in a residential facility.
Unfairly, nine year-old John was born testing positive for cocaine, alcohol and marijuana. Soon after, he was separated from his birth mother and adopted by a new family. But by age three, John started exhibiting aggressive behavior which, over the years, became more elevated and he began endangering himself and others. His adoptive mother felt overwhelmed and unable to manage John’s care on her own.
John was matched with Stanford Youth Solutions in an effort to stabilize his behavior and keep his family together.
Teen mom Samantha knows first-hand how important it is to create a safe, loving family for her two-year old daughter, Tiffany.
At just 16 years old with an infant to care for, Samantha was living in a group home for young mothers. Feeling isolated with the weight and responsibility of being the sole caregiver for her daughter, Samantha began to unravel.
Growing up with an addicted mother made teenager David’s life feel insecure and overwhelming. His sense of impermanence only increased when he was separated from his mother, who could no longer care for him, and was placed in a group home. After five years at the group home with little contact with his family, attempts at placing him in foster care were unsuccessful.
During this time, David was referred to Stanford Youth Solutions, where his mother became re-engaged in her son’s life. She had achieved sobriety and worked hard with Stanford Youth Solutions to get her children back.