The Valley of the Moon Children's
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
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
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