Creating Families Today

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in Events, Featured Slider, News | 0 comments

Last week Hathaway-Sycamores’ Sam Heinrichs joined Pasadena Public Library Director Jan Sanders along with representatives from Five Acres and Hillsides in a dynamic panel discussion: Creating Families Today: A Conversation with local Social Service Agencies focusing on the evolution of The Children’s Aid Society and Orphan Asylums of the past into the social service agencies of today.

Hathaway-Sycamores joins the conversation at the Pasadena Public Library

Joseph M. Costa, Chief Executive Officer at Hillsides; Jan Sanders, Director Pasadena Public Library; Marianne Guilfoyle, Director of Permanency Programs at Five Acres and Sam Heinrichs, Hathaway-Sycamores’ EVP of Programs

The panel; Sam Heinrichs, Hathaway-Sycamores’ Executive Vice President of Programs, Marianne Guilfoyle, Director of Permanency Programs at Five Acres and Joseph M. Costa, Chief Executive Officer at Hillsides; shared information on the history of the three agencies, what they are doing in the community today and how the community can support the children, young adults and families they serve now and in the future.

The discussion was the kick-off event for Pasadena Public Library’s One City, One Story program featuring the book Orphan Train. Author Christina Baker Kline explains the history behind her novel, “Between 1854 and 1929, so-called “orphan trains” transported more than 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children – many of them first-generation Irish Catholic immigrants – from the coastal cities of the eastern United States to the Midwest for “adoption” (often, in fact, indentured servitude).

A major paradigm shift that the assembled group agreed on is the current focus on providing services to children in need instead of raising children as the orphanages of the past did. The panel discussed the importance of permanency for children. There often are family members somewhere that want to be involved in the lives of the children in foster care. As Sam Heinrichs stated, “We don’t just bring children in, we are looking to reconnect them with family.”

A dramatic statistic shared was the fact that currently there are 20,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles Country. A priority for both Hathaway-Sycamores and Hillsides is supporting youth emancipating from the foster care system by provide housing and help to acquire the skills young people need to live independently. In response to the tremendous need, Hathaway-Sycamores has recently increased the number of apartments we have available for our young adults transitioning out of foster care, expanding our capacity from 26 to 90 beds.

The caring and compassion of the three agency representatives was clear as was their dedication to the well-being of the children served, but frustration was expressed with some of the challenges the agencies face due to changes in health care laws and funding.

Other One City, One Story activities and events will be held in March, including a community dialogue with the author scheduled for Thursday, March 31st. Visit the library’s website for more information about One City, One Story.


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