For Immediate Release
December 9, 2021
Contact: Gene Kennedy
Senior Public Information Specialist
Children’s Services Boosts Holiday Spirit for Foster Youth at Annual Event
The Young Adult Holiday Celebration supports those 18-21 in extended foster care
RIVERSIDE, Calif.— About 150 young adults and their guests celebrated the holidays this week at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside surrounded by foster parents, friends, social workers, community members and a massive Christmas tree – a scene similar to New York City’s Rockefeller Center.
“This was an incredible event. I was able to reconnect with other foster youth and it really let me know people care,” said Katherene Daughtrey, 19, who entered foster care as a teenager and attended Tuesday’s 10th Annual Young Adult Holiday Celebration.
Children’s Services, which is part of the county’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), hosted the event with support from about a dozen faith-based and community partners. The celebration provided dinner, gifts, free haircuts and holiday-themed activities for youth ages 18-21 who are transitioning from Extended Foster Care to independent living. Approximately 365 young adults in Riverside County are in Extended Foster Care.
Daughtrey graduated with honors from Coachella Valley Adult School in 2020 and was the class valedictorian. Today, she lives on her own while also receiving benefits through the Extended Foster Care program which is helping her afford to attend College of the Desert, where she’s studying culinary arts and business.
Many of the young adults attending the event, including Daughtrey, have limited or no family connections – making the holidays difficult – and Tuesday’s event especially important.
“We hope this event provides our young adults with love, support and joyous holiday memories that may have been missed during their childhood,” said Charity Douglas, assistant director of Children’s Services at DPSS.
“I’ve actually never had a picture with Santa until now,” said Daughtry who cuddled with her 12-month-old son Ezequiel while posing for a photo with Santa.
Last year, social workers delivered holiday gifts to young adults. Daughtrey said she’s glad the event was in-person and hopes to visit again next year. “I really felt the sense of community and appreciate the community partners who worked so hard to make this possible,” she added.
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Holiday Celebration partners included:
1LoveIE Great Clips
Harvest Christian Fellowship New Beginnings, Norco
La Sierra SDA, Riverside The Grove Community Church
Faith in Motion Trinity Lutheran, Riverside
Immanuel Lutheran Church Centerpoint Church, Murrieta
Gateway Church, Murrieta Inland Empire Health Plan
Eminence Barber Academy Footlocker