Community Link
A newsletter of Napa Valley Community Foundation
October 2015
As many of you know, we conduct more than 200 site visits with charitable organizations each year. When kids return to school in the fall, we like to look afresh at organizations that support children, or families with youngsters.     
This month's edition of Community Link features three programs that help kids get what they need to grow and thrive. All have been vetted by Community Foundation staff.
If you'd like to support any of them, you can recommend a grant by logging into your DonorCentral account from the homepage on our website. Or, you can fax us a completed grant recommendation form at 254.7955. 
Julia DeNatale & Marla Tofle
Philanthropic Services Staff
Families receive support to foster and adopt kids
What's needed: $25,000 for Napa programs
Why they exist: When children enter the foster care system, the ultimate goal is to reunify them with their parents and return them to a healthy home environment. However, in many cases, there are insurmountable issues--like drug use, incarceration or even the death of a parent--that make this unachievable. The next-best alternative is immediate placement within the safe home environment of extended family members, because these placements often are long lasting; allow siblings to stay together; and, are easiest for children. Lilliput provides support services to extended family when taking one or more children into their care. Collectively, these services are known as kinship support. The agency also helps these relatives adopt the kids, which is known as kinship adoption. The nonprofit specializes in transitioning children into placements with extended family members immediately after the young person enters the foster care system. This is a best practice because it prevents trauma caused when kids leapfrog between multiple foster homes before landing with relatives.
What they do well: Although kinship adoption is Lilliput's core service, almost half of the kids the nonprofit serves are matched into foster placements with non-relatives. These non-relative foster families face unique challenges when working toward adoption of the children. To that end, Lilliput offers specialized counseling, support groups and education that help non-family foster parents successfully adopt their foster children.
What we learned when we met with them recently: After the adoption is finalized, a family's need for support continues. Lilliput's Post-Adoption Services (PAS) currently helps 12 Napa County families and includes: crisis intervention and therapy; referrals to other community resources; respite care for adoptive parents; siblings' support groups; and, group activities for adoptive families to socialize and build a peer network. Last year, Lilliput's Napa County PAS program, which had a budget of $100,000, took a 75 percent cut in government contracts,  the sole source of funding. The nonprofit reduced costs by creating efficiencies across its geographic service areas, and now has a budget of $50,000 for Napa County PAS; Lilliput has to fill a gap of $25,000.
People served: 162 families in Napa receive kinship support services, 34 Napa County children are in active foster-to-adoption placement. (The agency serves a total of 1,500 kids--plus their families--throughout the North Bay.)
Budget & Board:  $9.4 million ($324,000 is for Napa programs)/11 Board members
Contact: Karen Alvord, Chief Executive Officer, 
Parents bond with their youngsters while cultivating a love for reading
Organization: Child Start, Inc.
What's needed: $10,000 for Raising a Reader replacement items
Why they exist: When parents or caregivers read to their infants and young children, it fosters healthy brain development, and literacy skills needed for academic success. RAR is a take-home book bag program that promotes daily "book cuddling" between parents (or other primary caregivers, like child care workers) and their children ages birth to five. This lap time cultivates bonding that is essential for a child's growth, as well as a love of books and reading--and it doesn't matter whether the parent is reading to the child, or talking with the child as they page through the book together. Each week, parents take home a bag filled with award-winning books (in English or Spanish, or a mix) from their local preschool or Family Resource Center (FRC) and, the next week they return the books and their bag gets replenished with a new batch.
What they do well: RAR targets (but does not limit services to) Napa County's low-income families, because these parents may not be strong readers in English or their native language, and therefore reticent to read with their young children. RAR partners with 25 schools and three FRCs and trains their staff to promote the program and, on techniques for showing parents how easy it is to share the experience of books and reading with their children. The program also supplies partner-agency sites with parent-focused videos and other education materials. 
What we learned when we met with them recently: RAR needs to refresh a portion of its library and bags each year due to loss and wear and tear. Partner-agency sites reported a spike in lost books and unreturned or worn-out bags at the end of the school year in June. RAR typically spends $15,000 to $20,000 on replacement items annually, but is receiving more requests this fall for refresher materials; $10,000 would buy about 1,500 books.
People served: 1,390 children (and their parents) throughout Napa County
Budget & Board: $15.1 million ($97,000 is for RAR)/6 Board members
Contact: Debbie Peralez, Executive Director,
Children's allies champion funding for
kids' futures
Organization: Funding the Next Generation Napa (FNG Napa)
What's needed: $10,000 in general support
Why they exist: FNG Napa is a local effort to create a sustainable public funding stream that supports services for children in Napa County. The Coalition is modeled after San Francisco's Children's Fund, which, since 1993, has raised more than $500 million to support children's programs in the county.  FNG Napa's members represent 40 child-serving nonprofits and public agencies; the group formed a year ago to research the feasibility for establishing this type of fund in Napa County.  The Coalition's call to action includes these two data points: 49 percent of kindergartners in Napa Valley Unified School District qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program, an indicator of poverty; and, our county only has enough licensed childcare slots to serve 20 percent of kids ages birth to 12. FNG Napa's long-term goal is to ensure public funding is available to help support programs that fill these gaps, as well as other needs for children and their families.
What they do well: FNG Napa participates in a regional learning cohort and receives technical assistance on how to structure and implement this type of fund. The San Francisco Children's Fund, which is viewed as a model for how these kinds of funds can have a positive impact, reports: increased sustainability among both nonprofit and government children's programs; reductions in child abuse; and, access to preschool for every child living in San Francisco.
What we learned when we met with them recently: One of FNG Napa's first accomplishments was creating a Children's Bill of Rights, and getting buy-in from the Napa County Board of Supervisors, which voted in April to adopt the document and expressed a desire to increase investments in local youth. Now, the Coalition is gathering data from local nonprofit and government service providers to: assemble a comprehensive list of existing services; identify current gaps and future needs; and, determine what it would cost to fully fund a complete menu of essential children's services that are offered countywide. FNG Napa's annual budget pays for coordination, convening stakeholders, research and advocacy work. The Coalition plans to launch the fund in 2016.
People served: Approximately 31,000 children ages 0-17 in Napa County
Budget & Board: $135,000/5 Leadership Committee members and an Oversight Committee of 40
Contact: Sara Cakebread, Funding the Next Generation Project Coordinator,
Editor's Note: FNG's fiscal sponsor is First 5 Napa County Children and Families Commission.

Transform Your Passion for Giving into Greater Impact.