Improving the Lives of Foster Youth in Sonoma County
TLC is deeply honored that the Sonoma County Children’s Village (SCCV) has entrusted us with its legacy gift of $2.5 million. SCCV was a non-profit that used to run an innovative, nurturing group home for foster youth. After having to close its home, it supported foster youth through other programs, including funding orthodontic and dental treatments, summer camps and other enrichments, and made a substantial contribution towards supportive housing for homeless former foster youth at CSN.
TLC feels privileged to be the new stewards of these funds and to continue the legacy of SCCV by providing innovative services to improve the lives of foster youth.
Orthodontic and dental treatments for foster youth
Orthodontic treatments are almost impossible to get paid for through Medi-Cal, so many foster youths who desperately need braces to improve their dental health and/or self esteem have to go without them. The SCCV Legacy Fund helps fund this critical need.
If a current or former Sonoma County foster youth (up to age 24) needs orthodontic treatment or other dental care that cannot be funded through other sources, please submit an application.
Going forward, TLC will carefully evaluate additional ways to support foster youth in Sonoma County through the SCCV Legacy Fund.
History of Sonoma County Children’s Village
The story of Lia Rowley’s village for children in Sonoma County started in 1997. Anguished over the murder of Georgia Moses, a 12-year-old Sonoma County girl with a troubled home life and nowhere to turn, Rowley vowed never to let this happen to “future Georgias” again.
If local children came from homes with abuse or neglect and had no family or friends to turn to, she was determined to create a safe village for them in Sonoma County. It was important to her that children be with their siblings and surrounded by loving adults. For the next eight years, she and other supporters tirelessly reached out to the community to build support for their cause. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit was formed in 1999.
In 2003, Bob Kolodge, a former foster child himself, gifted the property for the Sonoma County Children’s Village. Progress then moved quickly. The story touched the hearts of Jennifer and Joe Montana in 2004, giving a needed boost and heightened visibility to its mission. Other celebrities also began rallying around Rowley, bringing awareness, commitment and funding to help make the Sonoma County Children’s Village a reality. Jerry Garcia donated proceeds from his art show and Tom Waits wrote a song for the catalyst child, Georgia Lee.
Countless other volunteers gave their time, money and commitments to the project. And in 2006, the Sonoma County Children’s Village opened its doors and began changing the lives of dozens of foster children. As had been Lia’s vision, they – together with their siblings – found a nurturing home on the village campus, with caring and supportive staff, on-site volunteer grandparents, and many dedicated volunteers from the community who enriched the children’s lives through gardening, arts, trips to Disneyland and much more.
However, in 2015, California bill AB403 was passed, which dealt a blow to the group home concept. The Sonoma County Children’s Village could no longer function as a home for foster children. Sadly, it closed and the property was sold.
Refusing to give up on the Sonoma County Children’s Village and its mission to serve foster youth, a group of dedicated volunteers researched the needs and available services in the community and found other innovative ways to support foster children, true to its updated vision and mission.
- Vision: a world where all children feel safe, have a sense of belonging and have equal opportunities to become happy, healthy and productive adults.
- Mission: to improve the lives of foster youth through the power of community.
In the fall of 2016, SCCV launched new programs that funded urgent needs and services that directly benefited individual foster youths and are not covered by other funding sources, such as orthodontics, tutoring and specialized therapy, but also enrichments like gymnastics as well as professional driver’s training. SCCV supported summer camps that help to normalize foster children’s experiences and reconnect siblings that have been separated in foster care. And a substantial contribution to CSN’s supportive housing will help house homeless young adults who are former foster youth for years to come.
With growing programs run entirely by its volunteer board, SCCV found itself at a final crossroads. Rather than hiring staff and competing for resources with approximately 3,000 other nonprofits in Sonoma County, the board decided to dissolve and gift its remaining funds to a nonprofit that is aligned with their mission and values and also has the leadership, vision, organization, and track record to make the most of the funds. After extensive vetting and consideration, they found the perfect match in TLC Child and Family Services. Sonoma County Children’s Village transfers a legacy gift of $2.5 million to TLC in early 2020.
The restricted gift requires that TLC’s new SCCV Legacy Fund fund orthodontic and dental services for current and former Sonoma County foster youth up to age 24 that are not met through other funding sources, for as long as such needs exist. Any remaining funds can be used for new models of service and support to the foster community, serving foster youth with an open case, or a future definition thereof, in Sonoma County. All programs funded through the SCCV Legacy Fund will be open not just to TLC clients but to all Sonoma County foster youth.
Along with the funds, Sonoma County Children’s Village passed on the Georgia Moses memorial rock to TLC. It has been given a special place on the beautiful TLC campus near Sebastopol.
The Legacy Continues
Although Lia Rowley passed away in 2019, her legacy and the memory of Georgia Moses now live on with the Sonoma County Children’s Village Legacy Fund under TLC Child & Family Services. Our gratitude to everyone who has journeyed with the Sonoma County Children’s Village and has made – and continues to make – a huge difference in the lives of foster children in Sonoma County.