The Emergency Children´s Shelter is a 24-hour facility equipped to provide temporary foster care to children either placed into protective custody or placed voluntarily at the discretion of the shelter manager. This facility has the ability to provide for six children at a time, and can provide for eight children if this is necessary to keep a sibling group together. The Children´s Shelter is supervised by the Tuolumne County Department of Social Services. The primary purpose of the Emergency Children´s Shelter is to provide a temporary, safe, and stable home for children ages 0-18 years either described by Section 300 or 601 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. The average length of stay for a child at the Emergency Shelter is twelve days, though children can stay at the Shelter for up to thirty days. This timeframe has allowed social workers the time needed to identify appropriate relatives and/or long term homes for children which has greatly reduced the amount of placements changes for kids, and has allowed more children to be placed in the county, and continue in their same schools.
The Children´s Shelter opened January 5, 2004 and since that time there have been a total of approximately 90 children placed at the Shelter. There have been a total of approximately 25 sibling groups that have been placed at the Shelter together. Each child that enters the Shelter receives a Child Health and Disability Prevention examination and a mental health assessment within 10 days of placement and we are working with Dental Connections to facilitate dental exams for children at the Shelter as well.
Tim and Alivia Kimble are the foster parents that live at the Shelter full time. They were recruited through a competitive application process and they had previous experience as foster parents before coming to the Shelter. The Kimbles just recently signed a contract to be the Shelter parents for an additional three years.
Additionally, in July 2004, the Overflow Shelter was opened and has the ability to take two children. The Overflow Shelter is located next door to the Shelter and John and Leslie Andrews are the Overflow Shelter foster parents who work collaboratively with and provide regular respite care for the Kimbles.
Both shelters are operating smoothly and have not only provided stability for children, but have also provided amazing relief and tremendous support to social workers. The shelters welcome and appreciate any donations from the community and we are all thankful for the tremendous community support in this effort.
Reprinted with permission from Sierra Mountain Times.