Guest Blog: Lilliput Children’s Services
My name is Elizabeth Morabito and I have worked for Lilliput Children’s Services for nearly four years now. That’s the longest I have ever worked anywhere! That tells you just how much I love it here. It’s such a great feeling to know that every single day, I am in some way, helping our community’s most vulnerable children – those already in the foster system and those at risk of entering non-relative foster care. I was adopted myself and was very lucky to find my family as an infant. I thank my lucky stars every day for my Mom and Dad. I know that things could’ve easily turned out much differently for me. Did you know that over 300 Sacramento County youth emancipate out of foster care every single year? That could have been me. I don’t know about you, but I need my parents’ love and support now more than ever, even though I am grown with kids of my own.
As you can imagine, child welfare practices have changed greatly over the years since I was adopted in the sixties. Today, it is a priority to place children who have been removed from their parents with kin – extended family members or someone else known to them – whenever possible. This is because it is safer for the children and keeps them connected to family, particularly their siblings, as well as their community and culture. Did you know that there are over 20,000 grandparents in Sacramento County raising their grandchildren? These grandparents and other kinship caregivers play a vital role in the child welfare system by preventing their loved ones from entering non-relative foster care. Once separated, it is incredibly hard for children to find their way back to family.
But, kinship families need support. This change in life is pretty much always unexpected and sudden; many times literally overnight. The kinship caregivers in Sacramento County typically subsist at or below the federal poverty level before even bringing a child or children into their home. A kinship family in this community is usually a single African American grandmother in her 50s or older raising multiple grandchildren.
Lilliput Children’s Services provides the necessary support to kinship families through their Kinship Support Services Program. This program is the only one of its kind in the county. Lilliput’s services help to ensure that kinship families stay intact; thus preventing the children from entering non-relative foster care. This program needs additional funding in order to continue offering the incredible range of services that have made it possible for them to support over 400 caregivers and 700 children since November 2007.
That’s where the upcoming 3rd annual Walk ‘N Rock for Kids comes in! The community 5k walk portion of the event will be held in the morning at Raley Field and it is anticipated that 10,000 walkers will participate. You’ll find me there, amongst the thousands, with my Lilliput coworkers, family members and friends. Please join me in helping Lilliput to raise $15,000 for the KSSP program. The funds raised may be used for emergency items needed when the children first come into the home like car seats, cribs, beds and clothing or for recreational activities, sports leagues and clinics for kinship children and teens who would otherwise not be able to participate.
Like Lilliput, I believe that all children deserve to live in a safe home with a loving family. Lilliput has helped over 6,000 California children to find permanency with kinship or adoptive families. If you would like to help local children to remain safe with their loved ones, please participate in Walk ‘N Rock for Kids, please email me at EMorabito@Lilliput.org. For more information on Lilliput or KSSP, please visit www.Lilliput.org. For more information on Walk ‘N Rock for Kids, check out www.walknrock.org.