Reuniting Families: Foster Care
Forever Families: Adoption
Message from our CEO
That every child, youth, and family in child welfare will have the ability to achieve their hopes, fulfill their dreams, and thrive.
To help children and youth in foster care have the childhoods and futures they rightfully deserve
Our Leadership & Staff
Supporting Youth: UP4Youth
NURTURE. THRIVE. REPEAT.
Year in Review
Letter from CEO
and we must,
be the caring adults to help transform the lives of our most vulnerable children. We can, and must,
be their lifeline.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Extraordinary Families, a leader in foster care and adoption in Los Angeles County. We serve as a lifeline for our most vulnerable children and youth impacted by trauma, and provide support to help build and strengthen families. Founded in 1994 with the vision that all children have the right to safety, happiness and belonging, our mission to help children and youth in foster care have the childhoods and futures they rightfully deserve continues today. I am deeply honored to be a part of this legacy and carry Extraordinary Families into its future.
Our children and youth are the inspiration to an extraordinary future. Children come to us from traumatic beginnings, but this is not what defines their journey. We see resilience, tenacity, perseverance, strength, courage, and, above all, an opportunity to take agency of their futures. In a stable, loving and nurturing home with an ability to heal, what perhaps seemed improbable becomes possible. With our support, children and youth are offered stability and safety to explore hidden talents such as music, art, academics, and athletics, helping to reset the trajectory of their lives toward a happy and productive future.
Extraordinary Families’ founding commitment of finding families for children - not children for families - drives our efforts to build and strengthen families. More than 1,000 children enter the child welfare system each year in Los Angeles county, and we are here to join them with resource parents who can provide the healthy, loving environment all children deserve. Our team offers support groups, training and resources for parents to help bring out the best in these amazing children.
During the past 25 years, we have nurtured thousands of children and families through reunification, created lasting bonds through foster care and adoption, and helped to uplift our youth as they transition into young adulthood. Our future will continue this great work while also using our expertise to inform best practices and advocacy in the community. As you read this impact report and learn more about our community, I encourage you to consider ways in which you personally can make an impact.
We offer our heartfelt appreciation to Extraordinary Families’ community of supporters, our kind and compassionate resource families, mentors, board members, community partners, donors and volunteers, and staff. We could not do this work without you.
Chief Executive Officer
Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Chief Creative Officer, ITV
Foster Care/Adoption Supervisors
Jill Rosenberg, MSW
Amanda Silvers, MSW
Foster Care Social Workers
Christina Casillas, MSW
Erin Fennel, MA
Jade Green, MSW
Jaesey Mease, MSW
Stacey Ruhl, MSW
Adeola Swaby, MSW
Fesseha Tessema, MA
Foster Care & Adoption Assistant
Family Support Specialist
Eileen Lopez, MSW
UP4Youth Program Manager
Vice President, Banking Relationship Advisor, Northern Trust Wealth Management
Director of Programs
Together, our professional staff brings many years of education and experience in the care of children and youth in the child welfare system and the recruitment and support of foster and adoptive families.
Quality Assurance Manager
Bonnie Sharpe, MSW
Special Projects Coordinator
Joe Udeochu, MBA
Vice President Advancement, Skirball Cultural Center
Sarah Boone-Perez, LCSW
Kane County Hospital Fost/Adoptive Parent
Chief Executive Officer
Our Board of Directors cares deeply about children and families involved in the child welfare system - with nearly half having fostered and adopted from foster care - and they are committed to helping Extraordinary Families fulfill its mission.
Director of Technology, KTGY
Juliet Musso, Ph.D.
Flournoy Professor of State Government, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
Co-Founder, World of Wonder Productions, Fost/Adoptive Parent
Associate, Hilton & Hyland
Senior Vice President,
Drama Series, HBO
Obtain a license to also provide adoption services, becoming Southern California Foster Family & Adoption Agency (SCFFAA).
SCFFAA merges with policy and advocacy group, Child Welfare Initiative (CWI), becoming Extraordinary Families under the leadership of CWI founder, Andrew Bridge.
Launch Youth In Transition Program, aimed at providing co-mentoring and supportive services to transition-age youth.
Sylvia Fogelman puts her vision of providing foster children with safe, loving homes to action and incorporates Southern California Foster Family Agency as a 501(c)3.
First private agency
to receive the
“All Children - All Families” seal from the
Human Rights Campaign
work as a leader
in supporting and
Earn prestigious three-year accreditation from CARF International, upholding excellence in human services.
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF SERVICE
Expand our transition-age youth program to add
employment, education, and resource coordination, re-branding it as Unlimited Possibilities for Youth (UP4Youth).
Recognized by the Human Rights Campaign's "All Children - All Families" project as an Innovator in serving LGBTQ children, youth and families.
Launch Resource Family Recruitment and Family Support initiatives, including Ambassador Program.
Hearts full and happy smiles at our first ever Fall Festival
Our extraordinary resource parents fill the house
Founder, Sylvia Fogelman, being honored at our 25th Anniversary Luncheon
One of our many adoption
Every year, we are proud to share the successes of our families, youth and programs. This past year marked our 25th year of service to the community and our unconditional commitment to the children, youth, and families for whom we exist to serve.
Our UP4Youth program remained steadfast in its efforts to support youth transitioning out of foster care, guiding them on their journey to self-sufficiency with robust services and supports in employment, education planning, and mentoring. From mock interview and budget workshops, to movies and game nights, we strove to provide an array of experiences for youth to enjoy and begin to make life-changing strides towards achieving their goals. A highlight this year was when the incredible employees of Verizon held a social media workshop for their Great Build Day. Our youth got hands-on experience planning and creating social media campaigns for Extraordinary Families.
In May, leadership attended the premier of Foster, an HBO documentary that showcased compelling first-hand stories of children, youth and families navigating the child welfare system. Our staff served as expert advisers on this film, and it was rewarding to see it come to fruition.
In June, Extraordinary Families marked our 25-year anniversary milestone with celebration filled with fun and food, highlighting more than two decades of improving the daily lives and long-term outcomes of children and youth in foster care. Honorees included our visionary founder, Sylvia Fogelman, who recognized the need to better serve the children and youth of our communities when she began working as a foster care social worker in the early 1990s; and philanthropist, activist, and advocate, Rosanne Ziering, whose generosity and vision led to the creation of Extraordinary Families’ mentoring program. The heartbeat of our organization, Marta Valle, whose infectious enthusiasm and profound care and concern has comforted countless children, youth, and families, was also recognized for her 20 years of dedicated service to the agency. Our community of friends, families, and supporters joined together and raised $160,000 to further advance our mission and help more chidlren and youth! We are forever grateful for their generosity.
In June, Extraordinary Families was recognized as an Innovator in LGBTQ inclusion by the All Children - All Families project of the Human Rights Campaign. This award is their highest seal of recognition, an honor of which we could not be more proud.
Our first annual Fill This House took place in August. This event joins resource parents in sharing their experiences and offers invaluable insight about fostering and adopting from the foster care system. Prospective parents were encouraged to hear these stories, ultimately adding to our pool of families available to foster.
In October, we held our Inaugural Fall Festival, where friends and families joined together to play carnival games, pick out pumpkins, eat delicious food, enjoy live music and bid on exciting silent auction packages. In addition to raising awareness about children in foster care, we raised $25,000 to support our ongoing programs.
We finished the year with our annual Holiday Party, a celebration like no other, buzzing with the joy and excitement that brings together our community of children, youth and parents that we have served over the years. In keeping with tradition, it was a magical day filled with fun, crafts, a delicious feast, pictures with Santa, and presents for all. We are so honored to share in our families' memories.
This past year, we said farewell to some beloved team members, and also welcomed many new faces, including our new UP4Youth Program Manager, David Torres. Sarah Boone-Perez stepped down as Chief Executive Officer and joined our Board of Directors, and Director of Philanthropy & Community Relations, Barnaby Murff, guided the agency through the transition, ensuring continuous and quality services without disruption.
We are very fortunate to have such an incredible staff and Board to help advance our mission as we embark on yet another momentous and memorable year of serving the greater Los Angeles community. If you are a new friend to Extraordinary Families, we welcome you and hope you’ll join our community of care.
The Great Build Day and Social Media Workshop with Verizon
25 YEARS AND
One of our many extraordinary young adults!
Youth mentoring founder, Rosanne Ziering, being honored at our 25th Anniversary Luncheon
David Torres, UP4Youth Program
Santa's helpers wrapping gifts for the Holiday Party
UP4Youth at Hillsides' Youth Moving On Christmas Dinner
children received foster care services
new resource families attended orientation to foster and adopt
The primary purpose for children in foster care is to safely reunify with their birth families. Until then, resource parents provide the stability and care children need. Their role is one of the most vital in the system, working nonstop to provide these children with a greater future. They are rich with knowledge, life skills, social capital, and love - all of which help shore up a child's future opportunities.
new families approved to
foster and adopt
children successfully reunified with
Deeply moved to help care for children in her community, Sam Harvey became a foster parent with Extraordinary Families in 2018. Her goal has always been to help children return to their birth families and begin to heal from trauma. Adoption wasn’t necessarily a priority for her - at least not in the beginning. Sam explained, “Los Angeles county – home to more children in foster care than anywhere else in the state, in the nation, really – needs more foster parents who will continue to take in and help these children.” Since then, she’s opened her heart and home to two children, both under the age of three, helping them return to their families and ensuring that each received the supportive services, love, and attention they needed all along the way. And she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
With her first child, she bonded quickly and couldn’t help but fall in love. After six months of care, she was surprised by a newfound desire to provide a forever home for a child in need. Caring for this child and the bond and love she felt so instantaneously helped Sam truly understand how important it is for children to have a safe and loving place to stay, whether it be only for a few weeks or indefinitely.
“Foster care is truly the last resort when a child has nowhere else to go – because no one else can care for that child at that time. You are that child's lifeline. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly."'
Saying goodbye to her first child was bittersweet for Sam, but she held tight to her conviction to help more children in foster care. So, when the agency called her about another child who needed temporary care while her mother prepared to reunify in just a few weeks, she of course said yes. However, what was meant to be short-term ended up being nine months of care. "That's one thing every parent should know when they start to foster," shared Sam. "Foster care is unpredictable. You never truly know how long you will have the privilege to care for a child. All you can do is love them like every day is your first and last. Don't take that time for granted. Every day is an opportunity for you to help that child heal, thrive, and feel loved."
Sam has proven to be an exemplary foster parent every step of the way, not only in the unconditional care she provided for her children, but the support, respect, and empathy she offered to their birth parents. "They had their own varied experiences with horrific trauma and tragic histories," Sam explained. "And I've learned this is more common than not. These families are often a part of a long line of generational trauma. My hope is that I am in some way helping to break that cycle."
"I know there are more children and families in need," Sam continued. "Any day now, I'm sure, my phone is going to ring, and someone from Extraordinary Families is going to ask if I can take in another child. And I will say yes with an open heart."
children found forever families through adoption
With older adoptions, people are afraid they will miss out on their child’s ‘first’ moments – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many firsts: a first bedtime story, first sit down family dinner, first ride on an escalator. We get to co-create a shared family experience.
- EF Resource Parent, Tiffany
When a child in foster care cannot return to their birth family, adoption becomes the goal. Next to reunification, adoption is the best possible outcome as it provides security and a loving, supportive forever family that every child deserves.
Joy is the best word to describe our journey to becoming fathers. Every single day, we look
forward to the adventures, moments and memories
- EF Resource Parents,
Brad and Luke
Steven Engle knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a father. “It just took me a little time to realize that I could do it on my own," said Steven. "Thanks to the amazing support system I have, it was all possible.”
Steven started fostering for Extraordinary Families in 2017, not long after completing orientation. "I wanted to be certified ASAP. I knew that this was the road I was meant to be on." His journey was not a straight one, however, and he parented three children before Steven met his forever son, Oscar. All three children that he cared for before meeting Oscar safely returned to their birth families, and made indelible marks on Steven's heart.
Learning that he had no control over the fate of each baby was a challenge. “I tried my hardest, thinking I could change the outcome – not possible. I had to be patient and trust it was going to work out the way it was supposed to, for all of us. Had I not been, I may not have gotten all the way to Oscar.”
When the third child left his care, Steven struggled. “I knew this is what I signed up for. After all, that is the primary goal in fostering – to reunify with birth family. But at the same time, I was looking to grow my family. I questioned if I was strong enough to go through the process again.” Steven told Extraordinary Families that he was most likely done, but to not hesitate to call him if something came up that sounded like a fit. “And sure enough,” Steven said, “a few weeks later, my phone started blowing up."
"I was busy grocery shopping," he continued, "so I wasn't paying much attention. But when I finally I looked at my phone and saw multiple missed calls, texts, and emails, I knew, while standing in the frozen food aisle, that this was the one." Steven called the agency from the parking lot, and they told him the news about a newborn boy in need of a family. Steven, now overwrought with emotion, said yes, of course. His incredible support system rallied behind him and made it possible for him to leave work and meet Oscar in the hospital just a few hours later. He fell in love instantly. Four days later, Oscar came home with Steven; a year and a half later, they became a forever family. Extraordinary Families was there with the new family on adoption day to celebrate their beautiful union.
"The heart is a muscle – and yes, it can break – but it can also be strengthened over and over again.
After my first little boy was reunified," Steven recalled, "I didn’t know if I would be able to love another child as much as I loved him. Then I got my little girl, and she sure proved me wrong! So, with my third, I knew I was capable of loving him just as much. And the same, of course, for Oscar. They didn’t ask to be born under these circumstances. Knowing that I gave each child the love and care they needed at that moment has been an amazing gift. I always said that I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would endure that pain tenfold knowing that it meant that an innocent child had a loving, nurturing home for four months, three months, or even just two weeks…or in Oscar’s case, the rest of our lives.”
Transitioning into adulthood is
a challenge for any youth. For those who are “aging out” of foster care without a safe and permanent home, the risks are substantial. Our Unlimited Possibilities for Youth (UP4Youth) program helps these young people gain the skills to forge their futures and become self-sufficient adults through education and employment services, resource coordination, and mentoring.
mentors supported our
youth made positive advances toward their goals
youth gained employment or advanced their education
Know whatever you are going through now isn’t forever. You are in charge of where you end up in life. Yes, things may seem hard - but with good intention and discipline, a lot can change for you, if you put your mind to it!
youth and young adults received supportive services
- UP4Youth Participant,
Tisha Lopez spent 18 years in foster care and faced many obstacles over time. The challenges continued when she emancipated and became a young mother to her daughter, Maya. She moved around a lot until entering a transitional housing program and being referred to Extraordinary Families' UP4Youth program. She joined UP4Youth with the goal of getting assistance with stable housing, clothing, mentoring, transportation, and employment. Tisha was paired with one of our mentors, Susan James, who had also overcome challenges in her own life and was with a unique ability to support and inspire youth as a result. In time, the two developed a strong relationship. "She treats me and my daughter like her own family," Tisha said of Susan. "She cares so much. She gives me advice, she's there when I need someone to talk to, and she's helping me get back on my feet." Susan wants only the best for Tisha. “I try hard to help guide her to make choices that will lead her in that direction more easily,” said Susan.
Although tenacious at first, actively participating in all program activities and making great strides toward self-sufficiency, Tisha met with adversity and made some poor decisions that consequently resulted in the removal of her daughter from her care. Devastated by her actions, Tisha immediately set out to right the error in her judgment and change her life trajectory. Susan, in the meantime, quickly became certified to foster, enabling Tisha’s daughter to join her home and hopefully minimizing the child's trauma, keeping her close to her mother.
As Tisha set her eyes on becoming a better mother for Maya, Extraordinary Families was there for her every step of the way, from assistance with transportation to support during court hearings to referrals for housing, employment and education. With this support and guidance, and with the knowledge that her daughter was safe and well cared for by Susan, Tisha was able to complete a six-month parenting program, secure appropriate housing, and find childcare in preparation for her daughter’s return. She also enrolled and has been excelling in a medical assistance program, which, once complete, will be the first ever education program she has finished.
After six months in care with Susan, Maya was reunited with Tisha.
“I am so grateful for Susan,” Tisha shared. “I know what she sacrificed to help me and my daughter. I will always be thankful to her.”
"Being a mentor is hard at times - just like anything else that matters," said Susan. "But once you decide to do it, make sure you are always there for them no matter what. Be on time. Don't cancel. Let them know you are proud of them for their accomplishments and their effort, that you accept them for who they are. That's my approach."
Foster Care & Adoption Services
Core Mission Support
Goes directly to our children, youth & families!
Extraordinary Families works to make every dollar count, and we remain committed to fiscal prudence to ensure sustainability and high quality programming.
Our vision is that children in foster care have the ability to achieve their hopes, fulfill their dreams, and thrive. We have completed Year One of our robust three-year strategic plan comprising four overarching goals:
program to enable more transition- age youth to thrive
efforts within the child welfare space
with resource families that best meet their needs
our funding sources
TOGETHER, WE CAN DO MORE
Now more than ever, there is much to be done. Your continued support allows us to extend our work and advance the proven power of nurturing relationships. For more ways to get involved, visit
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Extraordinary Families is tremendously grateful for the generosity of our donors, without whom our work would not be possible.
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221 N. Ardmore Ave.
Los Angles, CA