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The mission of Phenomenal Families is to prevent childhood adversity and intergenerational system involvement by equipping, educating, and empowering pregnant and parenting at-risk youth to flourish in their ultimate roles as parents.
In 2007, our Founder & CEO, Sarah Pauter, turned 18, graduated high school, and "aged out" of the California foster care system all at once. Sadly, she found herself in the same desperate predicament that nearly 26,000 young people in foster care face each year when they emancipate from the child welfare system. This experience compelled Sarah to advocate for AB 12, which extended foster care from 18 to 21 and granted young people an additional three years to gain needed skills to truly transition to independence and self-sufficiency. While the extension of foster care was a crucial first step in improving outcomes, Sarah and many others noticed a concerning gap in services for the rapidly growing number of youth who were pregnant and parenting. Research shows that by age 18, one-third of young women in foster care are pregnant or parenting. Additionally, by age 21, 60% of young men formerly in foster care have impregnated at least one partner. Most alarming, however, is the 4x increased risk these children face of also entering foster care due to abuse or neglect. The vicious cycle of foster care and generational effects of childhood trauma led to the 2015 formation of Phenomenal Families, which helps at-risk parents create happy, healthy, and thriving families. Through tailored education and support, we break the cycle of childhood trauma and help families have the best possible start.