Foster Kids ~ A Place of Love & Hope

 Love Not Drugs......A Eye Opening Report on Children Neglected and Abused

Sierra Association Of Foster Children

1301 Cordone Suite 212, Reno, NV 89502
  775/828‐9977 Office

SAFF Offers:

  • TUTORING:  In-Home/after school academic tutoring in Math, English, History, Geography, Spanish and the sciences to children and teens in Washoe County’s foster care system. Our vulnerable youth need additional tutoring and mentoring to progress academically and prevent dropping out of school in later years.
  • BIRTH and FOSTER PARENT TRAINING/MENTORING: Offering training, support, mentoring, and advocacy, SAFF offers services to help foster and birth parents work together to help strengthen and nurture child-parent re-unification and create family permanency.
  • WASHOE COUNTY AND RURAL NEVADA PEER MENTORING PROGRAM: SAFF had received a grant from the Nevada Supreme Court to design and facilitate a peer based mentoring program for newly licensed foster parents. SAFF had trained 23 volunteer mentors in Washoe County and 14 mentors in rural areas of Northern Nevada who offered mentoring services to all foster parents. SAFF is working on bringing this valuable program back to full speed.
  • PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – ZUMBA: SAFF’s newest program to help children and teens in foster care reduce obesity, poor body image, and low self-esteem with weekly participation in the fun and energetic ZUMBA dancing classes for children – ZUMBATOMICS!




  • TEEN SUPPORT GROUP: SAFF had facilitated a monthly TEEN SUPPORT GROUP providing arts-in-education programs to foster teens ages 13-18. Once a month 20-30 youth in foster care attend the 3 hour sessions where they participate in painting, drawing, and creative writing programs with themes related to the prevention of academic disruption. This program was made possible by a grant from the Hawkins Foundation.


  • The Carson City Foster and Adoptive Home Recruitment and Support Coalition: SAFF has co-created with CASA the CCFAHRS Coalition. Once a month, SAFF and CASA of Carson City meet with foster and adoptive parents, community agencies, and DCFS to design programs/projects for recruitment, training, and retention of foster and adoptive parents in Carson City, Douglas County, and other rural Nevada areas including Pahrump.


  • LIFE BOOKS PROGRAM: Washoe County Services, SAFF has a Life Books Program. Foster parents – can come and get supplies to work on life books for the foster children in their care.



    Frank M. and Gertrude R. Doyle Foundation, Wells Fargo-Otto Huth Foundation, National Charity League, Women’s Junior League, Borders Book Store, Division of Child and Family Services, Unity Church of Reno, Victory City Church of Sparks, Teamwork’s Consulting/Teamwork’s Life Coaching, Scheels Athletic Store, Grand Sierra Resort, and all the other agencies, businesses, organizations, families, and individuals which make SAFF a successful service provider to children and teens in foster care.


Dec. 2, 2011

It’s bedtime in Louisville, Ky., and 7-year-old Jeremiah squirts “Monster Spray” under his bed, in his closet and on his pillow before saying his nightly prayers. The spray — a homemade concoction of water, food coloring and a dab of courage — is an old standby for many parents with children afraid of the dark, but in this instance, it’s been prescribed by Jeremiah’s therapist, David Crowley, to protect Jeremiah from memories of the past that haunt his nights.

Jeremiah and his three siblings are part of the foster program run by Maryhurst, a nonprofit agency that devotes itself to neglected and abused children in Kentucky. The agency takes in foster children who have endured some of the most horrific situations in the state. In Jeremiah’s case, he and his siblings entered foster care in 2009 amid allegations of extreme neglect. They rarely saw doctors or went to school, and were frequently hungry. Jeremiah still has nightmares of a house fire that nearly killed them.

In therapy, Jeremiah talks about the fire with Crowley.

“It was getting bigger and bigger,” he said.


Diane Sawyer with Jeremiah

To control his moods, Jeremiah was prescribed a psychotropic medication. At Maryhurst, Crowley also uses therapy to help Jeremiah work through his bad memories.

PHOTO: Following a year-long investigation, Diane Sawyer and Sharyn Alfonsi uncover a startling reality: many foster children, even as young as one-year olds, are being prescribed powerful mind-altering drugs at alarming rates.
Ida Mae Astute/ABC
Following a year-long investigation, Diane… View Full Size
Foster Kids and Meds: Finding Solutions Watch Video
Confronting Doctors Watch Video
Foster Children: Reason to Hope Watch Video

“We focus on relying on the strengths that the child has and using a team approach by consulting with psychiatrists, with the individuals that work with them on a daily basis, with the therapists, with parents, and with foster or adoptive parents,” Crowley said. “If we just focus solely on medications to fix acting out behavior or to help improve their mood, then if you take those medications away, then the core issue’s still there.”

READ: A Resource Guide for Children in Foster Care

Three-quarters of the children who enter Maryhurst’s program are on psychotropic drugs, but by the time they leave, well over half are on reduced or no medication at all.

“Our children come to us on many medications, but over time we want to reduce the medication as much as possible and hopefully, to where they wouldn’t need any at all. That’s a fine balance, but we want them to be able to participate in the treatment and if they’re overmedicated, they can’t do that,” said Maryhurst president and CEO Judy Lambeth.

It’s an old-fashioned approach to taking care of kids within a foster care system that’s under increased scrutiny this week. A Government Accountability Report released Thursday revealed that America’s foster children have been prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs at doses beyond what the Food and Drug Administration has approved. At a congressional hearing Thursday, lawmakers were interested in hearing about both the problem and possible solutions.

“We need to find out what works and do more of that,” said Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., who asked for the GAO investigation.

Former foster child Ke’onte Cook, 12, testified at the hearing, Ke’Onte was on multiple psychotropic medications during the four years he was in foster care, but is now on none.

“I think therapy is a better choice over meds if meds are not a necessity in that moment,” he said.

The children at Maryhurst agree — and say it’s the patience and care of the staff that has changed them.

Gabby, 16, says that being at Maryhurst saved her life. When she was 12 years old, she moved into one of Maryhurst’s residential treatment facilities weighing 220 pounds. She says the weight gain was a result of all the psychotropic medications she was prescribed in foster care.

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