Helping Foster Care Survivors ‘Weather the Storms’
Anthony Pico was homeless, unemployed, and had aged out of the foster care system when he started seeing a therapist weekly from A Home Within.
Today, Pico is a nationally recognized keynote speaker on child welfare and a community engagement manager for a social care network that connects people with programs. He credits his therapist with helping him transition to “enjoying stability and happiness for the first time.”
“My therapist has been my anchor through this storm,” says Pico, a board member of A Home Within.
The national nonprofit was born nearly 30 years ago in San Francisco out of a recognition that foster youth need to have sustained, one-on-one weekly therapy sessions with a single licensed therapist, free from the limitations of insurance, cost, or the confusion of the public mental health care system. In addition to San Francisco, A Home Within maintains large chapters in Alameda County and Los Angeles.
“We’ve grown to 20 chapters in 11 states and have served thousands of young people but to this day, our home and our heart is here in the Bay Area,” says Reed Connell, the nonprofit’s president and executive director.
For foster youth who often bounce around from place to place, the concept of “home” is fraught and changeable.
“We are establishing lasting relationships for young people that transcend the many challenges and changes they go through,” Connell says.
Clients voluntarily request therapy, express their preferences, and, once matched, partner with their therapist to determine the goals and duration of therapy.
A Home Within serves foster youth as young as three years old and former foster youth through middle age. Most A Home Within clients, however, are young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and are no longer eligible to receive services.
The average “match” between client and therapist lasts three years, though many last much longer. The nonprofit has served some 1,800 clients in California since its inception.
“A Home Within is helping people who have already survived a lifetime of rough waters build on that experience and see the strengths they have now, rather than the things they never had,” Pico says.
Executive Director: Reed Connell
With a mission to create and support lasting, caring relationships for children and youth in foster care, A Home Within identifies, recruits, trains, and supports a network of licensed therapists who each provide free, weekly, one-to-one therapy to a single foster youth “for as long as it takes.” For foster youth who often watch people move in and out of their lives, our model creates an anchor of support.
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When I became an AHW volunteer, I had lingering doubts — I wondered if my contribution was actually necessary or impactful. Now, I have discovered working outside of the mental health system liberates and expands my ability to provide health care rather than focus primarily on symptom reduction for financial reimbursement. Contributing and responding to a new health care model has inspired and revealed the benefits of whole person interventions.
Cheers to Another 30 Years of Extraordinary Therapy
In celebration of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the founding of A Home Within, the organization seeks to raise $300,000 to help secure decades more free high-quality therapy for foster youth.
The funding will allow the nonprofit to expand its community of therapists even further while also investing in a diverse mental health workforce by offering more training and mentorship for early-career therapists of color.
“We need your support to have another extraordinary 30 years and help thousands more foster youth,” says Executive Director Reed Connell.
May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust
Sarnat-Hoffman Family Foundation
In-N-Out Burger Foundation
Glass Half Full Foundation
Mental Insight Foundation
The Louis and Harold Price
Foster Care Research Group at the
University of San Francisco
11 California Family Foundations
Over 350 Individual Donors