October 6, 2021
Forming lasting relationships that change lives
A Kaiser Permanente grant will help connect youth in foster care to a mental health provider — a connection that provides the inner tools needed to succeed.
Although it’s been more than 15 years since Mitchell Findley, 34, has been in the foster care system, he is continuing to work through the trauma and emotional struggles that came from facing homelessness and having parents who suffered mental health and substance abuse issues.
“I had to grow up quicker than my peers because of my experiences,” Findley said. “I have carried around a lot of trauma from the early part of my life without even knowing it.”
At 25, Findley decided he was ready to participate in therapy. He discovered A Home Within, a national nonprofit based in Oakland that provides free, open-ended, individual psychotherapy to current and former youth in foster care.
“A Home Within is incredible because I can show up at therapy as my true self and can then share that person with the people in my life.”
Findley has engaged in therapy ever since.
“Working with my therapist has been incredible because I can show up as my true self and can then share that person with the people in my life,” he said, adding that counseling has given him a new sense of self-worth and allowed him to have a positive relationship with his parents.
Kaiser Permanente understands the serious health impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences, which a high number of youth in foster care face. Over the course of 2 years, Kaiser Permanente will donate $250,000 to A Home Within to connect 150 Northern California youth currently and formerly in foster care to a skilled mental health clinician.
Kaiser Permanente previously helped fund a successful A Home Within pilot program of this work. The current grant will be used to replicate and expand the work of the pilot including, the recruitment, training, and support of volunteer therapists.
“Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to lessening the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and this grant will be used to further that mission,” said Yvette Radford, vice president, External and Community Affairs, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “A Home Within is responding to the trauma experienced by youth in foster care by providing much needed mental health support through a long-term relationship that can help heal trauma, build resilience, and promote wellbeing.”
Meeting youth where they’re at
Qualified therapists, who exclusively volunteer for this work, partner with a foster child for a minimum of one year, or for as long as support is needed.
The volunteer therapists are recruited through the Contra Costa County Court Appointed Special Advocates, which also refers the youth in foster care to A Home Within. Therapists are vetted, undergo background screenings, and participate in a robust training program before working with youth.
“We make matches depending on our youths’ desires and ensure our therapists are responsive to their diverse needs,” said Reed Connell, executive director of A Home Within. “A Home Within is targeting a population that needs the most help because of having often been neglected by many institutions.”
A Home Within’s work also includes culturally responsive mental health care. As children of color are disproportionately represented among the current 60,000 California youth in foster care, A Home Within aims to recruit a diverse group of therapists. Currently, 44% of therapists A Home Within partners with are non-white.
Relationships that make a difference
Emily Kent, a volunteer therapist and clinical director of the A Home Within San Francisco chapter, has been working with a former foster child since June 2021. She explained the complex mental health conditions of many foster children and adults.
“They often face unstable and sometimes dangerous conditions and lack life skills, including how to write a resume, drive a car, or apply for college,” Kent said. “It’s amazing that A Home Within has given me and other therapists the opportunity to work closely with these young people on some of their deepest challenges to guide them toward a path to success.”
Findley said he is now in “a position of strength.” He has dedicated his career to helping other youth in foster care as a senior planner at Tipping Point.
“You can’t continue to help others if don’t help yourself. A Home Within has made a huge difference in my life.”
Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s community benefit investments.
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