About REFPA

“Our mission is to support the Sonoma County foster care community and the children they serve.”

The Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association (REFPA) is a non-profit organization consisting of foster parents, adoptive parents, community members, and Sonoma County social workers.  We strengthen the foster parent community by:

  • Assisting foster parents by offering resources, advocacy and emotional support.
  • Assisting foster parents and their foster children by providing social and enrichment opportunities.
  • Sponsoring fundraising projects to support our programs.

 


 

What is REFPA?

 

The Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association (REFPA) is a non-profit organization consisting of foster parents, adoptive parents, community members, and social workers from Sonoma County’s Family, Youth, and Children’s Division. Our mission is to support the Sonoma County foster care community and the children they serve. As foster parents, we would like to help these children experience childhood the way all children deserve, in a safe, loving, nurturing environment. REFPA sponsors fundraising events for special needs and scholarships, assists caregivers by offering educational opportunities, hosts social events, and provides emotional support & mentoring.

  • The “Blue Bag Project”: Before this project began in 1999, a child who entered a new emergency foster home often came with nothing more than the clothes he or she was wearing. A child who was moved from one foster home to another would bring along a few items, often in a plastic bag. REFPA now provides each child who is entering foster care with a new duffel bag, filled with new clothes (gender specific, size and season appropriate) and a few toys. These duffel bags and the items they contain become the child’s own property. At this time each bag includes: a quilt, pjs, underwear/diapers, toothbrush, socks, brush, 4-5 outfits, stuffed animal, sweatshirt, books, toy, and jacket. We distribute about 160 bags per year.
  • Special Needs and Scholarships: This fund provides monetary grants to foster children for extracurricular activities and one-time large expenses. Recent grants have included bicycles, karate lessons, art camp, sports fees, and school trips. We have also helped high school seniors buy yearbooks and participate in their senior proms and Grad Nights. In 2010, 12 fulfilled 52 grants.

 

 


 

REFPA History

 

The Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association (REFPA) emerged from a small group of foster parents who were adamant about getting better services for the children they so lovingly fostered. The group was formed in 1963 when these foster parents sought the help of a local county licensing social worker who connected them with other foster parents in Sonoma County. This cohesion eventually became known as the Sonoma County Foster Parents Association (SCFPA) and met to discuss problems and concerns they were experiencing in their positions as foster parents. In time, SCFPA, expanded to include foster parents from surrounding counties, and, so began the California State Foster Parents Association – formed in the kitchen of a Petaluma foster family. Today, there are over 52 foster parent associations in existence across the state of California.

In 1991 SCFPA changed their name to the Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association (REFPA) by a membership majority vote. This organization has been providing emotional, social, educational, and financial assistance to Sonoma County Foster Families. REFPA services include the Blue Bag Project, a scholarship fund that includes special needs for all foster children (including those who are aging out of the system), a yearly Valentine’s Day Party, Easter Egg Hunt, Armstrong Woods Nature Walk, Ice Cream Social, and Pumpkin Patch Outing. In addition, REFPA provides $250 gift cards to five Sonoma County birth families that have successfully reunited with their children, childcare for monthly foster parent trainings and a respite reimbursement program.

Members of REFPA participate by mentoring and supporting other foster and adoptive parents, assist with fund raising, meeting with social workers and serving on various county advisory boards. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recognizes the Month of May as “Foster Parent Month” and the Department of Human Services acknowledges foster parents as professionals. They hold an annual Awards Picnic in gratitude for the work & dedication of Sonoma County foster parents. They recognize foster parents for their years of service and present special appreciation awards.