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The Valley of the Moon Children's Home

The Stories -
Eddie, a seven-year-old boy, watched as his Mother was put in an ambulance after his Father had beaten her.

Mikey, a four year old boy arrived in a police car at the Valley of the moon Children's Home, having watched his father murder his mother.

Sherry and Alex, ages four and five, came to the Children's Home, having been severely sexually abused in their parent's home. The mother and father, their parental rights terminated, were in jail.

The police who feared for both Mary and the child's safety after being assaulted by her mother brought Mary, a fourteen-year-old mother with a ten-month-old infant, to the Children's Home.

The sisters, 15, 12 and 10, were admitted when they came to live with their father after the death of their mother. The father sexually assaulted the older daughter.

These are the stories of the children, all victims, all in crisis, families shattered, that come seeking refuge at the Valley of the Moon Children's Home. Many of the children brought to the Children's Home have never been away from their own homes and are frightened, unsure of when or if they will ever see their family or friends again. The staff works hard to ease the children's fears and let them know they are safe, using care, however, not to make promises or predict the outcome of the child's situation.

The Facility -
Located on Pythian Way, the present facility is a single story, 9,000 square foot, stucco building built in 1976 that houses up to thirty-one children ranging in ages from six to eighteen. A child's stay may range from a few days, to eight months, or until placement can be made with their family or in a foster home. Since it's start, the Children's Home has served as the only care center for children in crisis for Sonoma County. In 1994, the Redwood Center was built, sharing some of the building and adding an extension to the existing structure to house what has become one of the leading centers in the state for evaluations and documenting child sexual molestation. The kitchen, dining area, reception room, and several small offices for the three shifts of staff take up the front portion of the home. The remainder of the building is dedicated to a living room, adjacent small TV, or conference room, two shower / toilet rooms, and two hallways (one for girls, the other for boys) off of which are the rooms for the children. Space is at a premium and often up to eight children must share a room.

The Redwood Center has audio-video equipment behind a two way mirror for observation and documentation of interviews carried on in the adjacent interview room where allegedly sexually molested children are interviewed by the several expert interviewers. There is also an examining room used to examine molestation cases to document and collect evidence, which can be used in the prosecution of the case. A medical team and district attorney also have small offices at the center. The Redwood Center evaluates up to forty cases a month of sexual molestation. Prior to the establishment of the center, children that had been molested, beaten, or hurt in other ways were driven from homes, to hospitals, to court houses, to doctors, and back. They had no one place to stay and spent most of their first scared hours being shuttled around. With the Redwood Center, and the Valley of the Moon Children's Home help, children in crisis make only one trip and have someone with them at all times.

Both of the facilities have a very excellent, dedicated staff, enabling them to handle the case load under very crowded conditions. The crowding in the Children's Home makes it difficult to separate the age groups and does create some problems when you consider the usual situation where the child is under extreme pressure from his family crisis, is often frightened, angry, confused and would have a difficult time adjusting to an ideal environment. The Children's Home is far from a hotel for children in crisis.

The Problem -
The major problem at the Valley of the Moon Children's Center (Redwood Center and Children's Home) is space. Today the Children's home is experiencing marked crowding. Being the only such facility in Sonoma County, it must take all comers and its census has been up in the low thirties near its maximum of thirty-six. There is no way age groups can be separated and often as many as eight must be crowded into rooms designed for a maximum of four when the census peaks. This is a major problem when one considers that the children admitted to crowded rooms are often maximally stressed with their own life crisis at the moment. There is also limited room for privacy for counseling or handling emotional crises or outbursts, frequent in these children. Adequate room for computers, libraries, small group support sessions, or room within the building to store possessions brought by the children is not present.

In 1994, a partnership was formed and the Valley of the Moon Children's Foundation was started. The Foundation helped with money for clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and other personal items. In 1998, the crowding prompted the Foundation to fund and construct a modular building across the parking lot from the unit where parents could meet with their children and offices could be made for the psychiatric social workers and a nurse.

The Solution -
When the modular building was funded and built, the Foundation realized it was just a "Band-Aid" and not a permanent solution. At that time the Foundation assumed the task of raising money to build a new facility that would fulfill the needs of Sonoma County into the next century. Sonoma County provided the field across from the unit for the project, and it has become the Foundation's "Field of Dreams." The plans have been drawn and the budgets calculated and now the fundraising begins.

Help us to create this new safe haven for
children in crisis so that their dreams can
and will come true.