When Deanna’s mother went to jail, the 9-year-old was placed into foster care. Four years later, at 13, she came to the attention of Seneca’s Kinship Center, who found a potential adoptive family for the abused, angry, and unmanageable teenager. Kinship social workers provided special training to prepare the new parents to handle Deanna’s challenges. After many months of counseling, therapy, and support from Kinship staff, Deanna and her new parents are becoming a strong, healthy family.
When their mother was arrested for drugs, Kimberly and her three brothers were taken into custody. To keep the children from heading into foster care, their 70-year-old grandmother stepped forward, but with a limited income she could not care for four troubled teenagers. Seneca’s Family Ties program helped the grandmother with emergency and legal assistance, resources, counseling, and support groups so that she could eventually have permanent guardianship of her grandchildren.
Because of past sexual abuse, Chad, often hypersensitive, acted out frequently and aggressively. After entering Seneca's residential program and receiving constant care and support, Chad began to trust the adults around him. Instead of becoming aggressive when he thought he was being wronged, he would check in with that person. He became so good at this that he became a role model. Proud of his new skill, Chad began using it at home with his mother, who also worked with staff to better manage his home behavior. Armed with their combined new skills, Chad and his mother now live together again.
Angelica, 16, was pregnant, frightened, and alone. She heard about Seneca’s Kinship Center from a friend and made an appointment. With Kinship counselors, Angelica grew confident enough to talk to her family and the baby’s birth father, and ultimately involve them in the decision to place the baby for adoption. Through Kinship, the baby boy was placed with a loving adoptive couple, who help him maintain some contact with Angelica.
After Serena tried to hurt herself, she and her family connected with Seneca’s Mobile Response Team (MRT). Counselors helped Serena express her feelings without resorting to extreme words and actions. Seneca staff helped her family create a safety plan, including quick access to help, day or night, and also to develop ways to manage Serena’s suicidal behavior. Serena now understands and expresses herself more positively; her relationship with her family has deepened, and she still calls the MRT hotline when she needs to, as she says, “talk it out.”
Mark witnessed severe violence between his mother and stepfather, was placed in emergency foster care, and eventually adopted. But he became increasingly disturbed and withdrawn, and gradually stopped talking. His adoptive family was considering psychiatric hospitalization for Mark when they heard about Seneca and its special Wraparound program to keep high-risk children out of institutions. A Seneca team successfully worked with Mark’s adoptive family to help them address his issues and stabilize his adoption.
After spending most of his childhood away from his family, Shawn struggled with theft, drug use, violent behavior, and relating to others. He came to Seneca’s Wraparound program as an older teenager and after one year, reconnected with his father, three sisters, and older brother. These relationships helped him to finish high school and look towards college, where he hopes to study nursing, radiology, or auto mechanics. He eventually moved into a transitional apartment and now hosts his family for dinner.
"It is a pleasure to work with my child's therapist. She listens and genuinely cares about my child. Between her and my child's teacher, we make a great team! I appreciate the team effort." - student's grandmother
Fifteen-year-old Reggie had been stealing cars, using marijuana, skipping school, and had a 0.0 grade point average due to significant past trauma. His mother and grandmother were terrified he would end up in prison like his father. But after just five months in one of Seneca’s therapy programs, Reggie earned a 3.0, stayed clean, and made the varsity basketball team. He attributes his fast turnaround to positive attention from his family, Seneca therapist, probation officer, and love of basketball. (He placed in the top 10 in a recent competition.)
When Denise began therapy at Seneca, she was an unhappy, angry 12-year-old and would get upset easily and lose control, exploding into yelling and physical aggression. Once she began working with Seneca staff, Denise quickly formed a positive relationship with her therapist and used therapy to share her feelings and experiences. She started taking responsibility for her behavior and working toward positive changes. Today, she is a confident, happy, hard-working young woman who is thriving at school, at home, and in her extracurricular activities.
"My husband and I have worked with Kinship Center, a member of Seneca Family of Agencies since 2005. We successfully adopted our son in 2006 and have had a baby girl placed with us recently. Our experience has been wonderful, all of the social workers have been so dedicated and caring." - adoptive parent
"I'm so grateful to you for the work you've done with my son! He's a completely different person than when he started at Seneca. Before Seneca, he couldn't handle changes or would become easily overwhelmed when things didn't go his way. Now he and I can really talk about things when he's upset." – Seneca parent
"I love the staff here. They help me understand my son and how to be a better father. The staff is so helpful to me and my son. I love the way he smiles when he leaves school. I’m glad he is here." - Building Blocks Therapeutic Preschool parent
At age 3, Jorge was abandoned and found wandering down a busy street at night. After six years and multiple foster care moves, he has been adopted and is in treatment at Seneca’s children’s clinic to address his traumatic losses. “I wish I was never born,” he whispers into the safe ear of a therapy dog. Jorge will talk only to the dog, which his therapist uses to help him express his feelings. Now Jorge is learning that the trust he saved just for the dog can safely expand to others.
Drew once spent the bulk of each school day in the crisis classroom, struggling to follow directions and finish his work. For years, his hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and defiance because of past trauma made it impossible for him to attend school in a mainstream classroom. After beginning Seneca’s Public School Mental Health Program as a sixth-grader, staff worked with Drew to better express his feelings, accept support, and react better to others’ negative actions. By the end of seventh grade, Drew earned enrollment in his first academic mainstream classroom because of his evolving strong relationship with the Seneca team and his father.
Jose’s mother, Adriana, was very concerned about Jose's anxiety and sad that he had been asked to leave two other preschools. "I just can't help him calm down," she said as he squirmed out of her lap. Staff at Seneca’s Building Blocks program helped her and Jose cope with his anxiety at school and in their relationship. Over the next months, Jose learned to calm his body and focus on tasks (“He hugs me!,” Adriana says.) Jose’s anxiety has gradually lessened and he can now better communicate and make friends.
"The staff are incredibly committed to bringing out the strengths of the youth, their families, and their communities so that they can move quickly out of the Juvenile Justice System and work toward accomplishing their own goals and making positive changes. I am honored and privileged to work with and learn from such talented, dedicated, and thoughtful colleagues, youth, and families." - Seneca staff member
"I am continually amazed at the intensity of human effort invested by Seneca’s staff in working with and caring for many of the most vulnerable and challenging children in our communities. Seneca’s culture and mission of unconditional care for vulnerable children is palpable throughout the organization from the front line staff to the office workers to the administrative leadership. Its services are marked by an exceptional degree of professionalism and an unwavering commitment to giving children the quality of care they deserve and need to flourish." - Neil Gilbert, Board Chair
"I didn’t know what Seneca or Wraparound was in the beginning and felt like a fish out of water with my first foster child. I felt very supported from the beginning and received a warm welcome. The team almost felt like a family - everyone was so close. The team supported both myself and my foster child and helped me as much as her. After a while, things were going so well that we transitioned off Wrap. It was a blessing and a pleasure, everything worked out beautifully." - Seneca Parent
"This has been such a helpful experience- It’s been helpful to know the team has done everything they possibly could for my children. We appreciate everything and our Facilitator did a very good job!" - Seneca Parent
Kayla was severely withdrawn; playing in a private world, most likely due to her extreme guilt over thinking her behavior forced her and her siblings to be removed from their home. With the constant care and support from the counselors and her therapist, she began trusting other people and forming positive relationships. Kayla and her siblings now live with a loving foster family and have frequent family visits with their birth parents.
"As a mother, Seneca means home to me because Seneca supports me to create a ‘better home’ for my foster children. I am sure my foster children feel the same way as I do. When the children are put in Seneca program, the children immediately realize that they will be provided a ‘Home’ where they are comforted and assured of safety haven as long as it is needed. The children join in a family where they start to feel loved and cared for. They learn to live life normally." - Seneca foster parent
When Lauren, 17, came to Seneca’s Sonoma Wrap program through a probation department referral, she had been shoplifting, drinking, damaging property—she once kicked in a police car window—and was facing assault charges. When the Wrap team first met with Lauren and her family, she was having trouble complying with her probation guidelines (she had been in juvenile hall three times). The team quickly began to teach her mother to set limits; the family began homeschooling Lauren, and she defined career goals and wrote a resume. Her self-esteem and behavior improved dramatically, and she is on track to graduate from high school.
"Working with these students has been a very rewarding experience. I'm so grateful to have this chance to get to know these kids, to get to see all their strengths, skills, and talents, to get to celebrate their successes with them and be a part of the progress they've made. I'm so proud of these kids, and I'm so proud to be a part of a team that never gives up in supporting these kids and families and helping them bring out the best in themselves and each other." - Seneca staff member
"Since being placed at Seneca Pathfinder Academy she has expressed significant joy about being at school and her behavior at home has tapered from volatile and abrupt to thoughtful, patient, and reflective." - Seneca Parent
"You single handedly brought me and my dad back together." - Seneca youth
Find out more about bringing families together through Family Finding.
"Seneca promotes a vision of hope and progress unlike any I've ever experienced. I was hooked before I even arrived for the interview, yet nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience as I became steeped in the same values that I wanted to emulate not only as a social worker, but more importantly as a person. Love. Compassion. Joy. Hope. Courage. Respect. Curiosity." - Seneca staff member
"I have had the privilege of working closely with the management staff and I am continually impressed with all of them. Caring, bright, thoughtful and passionate about their work, these professionals set the highest standards...." - J. Nelson
"After exploring several other adoption agency alternatives, I went with Kinship Center, a member of Seneca Family of Agencies because it seemed like the most helpful, down-to-earth, knowledgeable and ethical of any I had reviewed." - Seneca adoptive parent
"These teachers and counselors are always there for my son and support him every day. I know sometimes it's not easy, but they help him work on what he needs to work on and he has come so far since when he started this program. Our family has been through some hard times, but my son is going to be successful. I'm so proud of him and what he's doing." - Seneca parent
"The Wraparound process has helped so much with both my adopted children, who have struggled a lot. I can’t speak highly enough about these services! I really appreciate everything they’ve done." - Seneca Parent
By the time Michael enrolled in Seneca’s James Baldwin Academy, his parents were worried and frustrated. Because of his emotional and behavioral challenges, Michael was performing far below grade level, had trouble focusing, and had been suspended from school 10 times that year. At James Baldwin, Michael built trusting relationships with his teacher, therapist, and peers, gradually understanding that Seneca would not suspend or expel him. Now that he can express himself and use new coping skills, he works at grade level, and his parents are thrilled.
"The most rewarding aspect of being part of the AIIM Higher program is seeing the growth in our partnership with probation officers and other juvenile justice system staff. Probation officers enlist the help of clinicians to play a therapeutic role in the system’s efforts to connect youth and caregivers to resources dedicated to the safety and well-being of the youth and their community." - Seneca staff member
"What I've learned and really grown to appreciate about our Seneca program at PHMS is that although we may at times think we are helping the kids, in reality they are the ones helping themselves. All we are doing is making sure they are given the same opportunities afforded to their peers, and just by us being present as bastions in their everyday lives at school, are being supportive and encouraging to every endeavor along their paths." - Seneca staff member
Haley’s symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, and hurting herself kept her from functioning normally, both in school and at home. After enrolling a Seneca nonpublic school, Haley slowly learned to form healthy attachments to other students and staff, who offered her consistency, patience, gentle confrontation, and unconditional care. She began to express her feelings through art, music, and poetry and her mother attended weekly family sessions. Since then, Haley has earned her high school diploma and gone on to community college with the hopes of eventually attending a public university.
Brooke was abandoned by her birth parents when she was born with a rare genetic condition that would typically require permanent hospitalization. Through Seneca’s Kinship Center STAR™ program, which finds homes for children with serious medical issues, a special foster family was found for Brooke. Her foster are working with Seneca professionals and a health-care team so that however long her life is, Brooke can spend it at home in the arms of a loving family rather than in an institution.
We are excited to announce that Seneca has won the employee's choice "Best Medium-Size Companies to Work for in 2014" award from Glassdoor.com! Thanks to all our amazing staff and supporters for making this a great place to work!
Seneca is proud to collaborate with the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute on an exciting research project focused on improving the quality of care for youth who have experienced interpersonal trauma. The Developmental Trauma Disorder field trial study aims to expand trauma-related services for children by developing a diagnostic picture that more accurately captures the cluster of symptoms that we see in children who have experienced complex and chronic trauma.
“One of the things I want is to come back here someday and say ‘thank you’. I just want to say thank you for everything. You all helped me so much.” – Seneca youth
Find out more about how you can support Seneca's mission to provide Unconditional Care to children in need. Give Back
"We’ve been doing this for years (working with the mental health system) and this is the first time my son has felt connected anywhere. This is the most he’s gone to school in 5 years." - Seneca parent
When Talia first came to Seneca, her schizophrenia kept her from functioning healthily at school and home. She grew easily frustrated and had impulsive urges to act on her psychotic thoughts. Talia, verbally and physically aggressive toward peers and staff, also struggled to finish school work. Since arriving at Seneca, Talia has participated consistently in individual therapy and worked on her relationship with her mother. She is now very motivated to graduate on time and is getting good grades in all her classes, including two mainstream ones.
"Seneca is an organization that will transform you as well as the families and children your work with. No matter what capacity your work is, all employes are held to the same values: love, compassion, respect, curiosity, hope, courage and joy. This empowers me to work with families and children in the same way. I'm very fortunate to love my job and the agency I work for." - staff member
Samuel’s parents, both drug-users, frequently left the 7-year-old on his own. He rarely attended school and suffered from malnutrition when he was removed from his home and placed with a Kinship Center emergency foster care family, where he receives physical and emotional help. Until Samuel’s parents show they can provide for him, he will remain in foster care, where Kinship Center staff are working with his school to design a plan to help Samuel catch up with his class and make friends.
"You have all helped us in such an amazing way and have truly become a part of our family. Words cannot express the gratitude we feel in our hearts. We couldn't have done it without you!" - Seneca parent