On May 30, 2018, Santa Clara County celebrates its 8 th Annual Family Reunification Day, as one of many jurisdictions across the country commemorating the event. Reunification Day, both nationally and locally, occurs annually between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The goal of National Reunification Day is to celebrate families and communities coming together and to raise awareness about the importance of family reunification for children in foster care. In our county, this event is a collaboration among the Superior Court, the Dependency Advocacy Center, the Department of Family and Children’s Services, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, Office of the County Counsel, First 5, and Court Appointed Special Advocates. All these organizations recognize the importance of reunification to children in foster care and, on this occasion, reinvigorate our commitment to this vital work.

As part of our celebration, the county honors five families who have overcome the possibility of permanent separation, in the face of significant challenges, to safely and successfully reunify. Additionally, the county recognizes two community honorees. Jara McDonough, a Program Coordinator at Solace Supportive Living, helps parents in our system become self-supportive and reunify by providing temporary housing, basic needs and teaching them independence and daily skills. Maria Gil, a bilingual Rehabilitation Counselor for Substance Abuse Treatment Services (SUTS), with her kind smile and compassionate spirit, supports our parents with community referrals for housing, medical, dental and life resources. Dependency judges, attorneys for the parents, children, social workers, and court appointed special advocates all participate in the celebration to honor the work of families and community partners.

Roxanna Alavi, attorney at Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) observes: “As a child’s attorney, I find that this event always lifts our spirits and reminds us how when we work together to support family reunification, the kids, the parents, the community, everyone wins. Our vulnerable children and families should be strengthened, reunified and celebrated.” AnnaLisa Chung, Chief Executive Office of Dependency Advocacy Center, which provides legal representation to the parents, adds: “It’s not often that you hear about reunification successes in child welfare proceedings, but these are stories that should be told. Reunification Day was created to celebrate these inspiring extraordinary efforts and to acknowledge the courage, resilience, and love exhibited by the families we are honoring. They are also examples of the system working as it should, when social workers, attorneys, the court and community partners support the parents and children to successfully reunify. This event reminds us all why we do the work we do.”

The Santa Clara County celebration will be held on May 30, 2018 in the Social Services Agency Auditorium at 333 W. Julian St in San Jose, from 1:30pm -3:30pm.

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