RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.—When foster parents Derrick and Tami Sanchez receive a child into their home, which can sometimes be in the middle of the night, they always assure them that they are part of their family.
“Each child we receive is different, and we do what we can, so they feel comfortable while they are with us,” says Tami Sanchez, who experienced being placed in a foster home as a youth. “One child’s mother told us he liked to eat beans and white rice, so that is what we made for him.”
The couple was one of three selected by the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) for the annual Caregiver of the Year award. This is a distinction given during National Foster Care Month in May, an opportunity for communities and advocates to show their appreciation to foster parents who commit to providing a safe and loving environment to children and youth who temporarily cannot live with their families.
About 4,500 children and youth are in Riverside County foster care on any given day. This year advocates are focusing their attention on the crucial role foster families play in helping children and biological families find the support they need to reunite in a safe and healthy environment.
“Every child deserves to live in a supportive and loving home where they can thrive and reach their highest potential,” said Charity Douglas, assistant director of DPSS, Children’s Services. “When children cannot remain safely in their homes, foster parents who open their hearts and homes provide an invaluable service to our community.”
The Sanchezes, who have one teenage son of their own, are currently fostering four young boys, including a newborn. They are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the boys stay in contact with their families. Ten of the 14 children the Sanchez family has fostered since 2018 have been successfully returned to their birth parents.
“We try to be flexible and work around the parents’ schedule to make sure they get to visit their kids every week,” says Derrick, a stay-at-home dad. “Ultimately, the goal is to reunite the family whenever possible.”
Those who are interested in becoming foster parents in Riverside County are invited to learn more by calling 1-800-665-KIDS (5437).