EBCLO awarded its first ever EBCLO Ebbys at its Fifth Anniversary Party on October 16, 2014. All of the awardees played, and continue to play, an important role in AB12’s success in Alameda County. Allowing children to stay in foster care until age 21 was a groundbreaking and monumental change to the way California treated its transition age youth, and it took a village to make it so successful in Alameda County. Among the honorees was retired Senator John Burton whose foundation, John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes, was instrumental in developing and passing the groundbreaking legislation. Then Bay Area Legal Aid’s Brian Blalock helped everyone on the ground understand the voluminous new law. The Morrison & Foerster Foundation sponsored Equal Justice Works Fellow Liz Aleman so that she could help EBCLO hit the ground running with this new population of clients. Faith Battles embraced the spirit and magnitude of the law on behalf of Alameda County Social Services, and Ann Whiting works with the kids the law is designed to benefit every single day, helping them make smoother and more successful transitions to adulthood.
Meet them all . . .
John Burton has been one of the most effective leaders in the State of California over the last 40 years. He began his career as a deputy attorney general before his election to the State Assembly in 1964. He was then elected to Congress in 1974 and returned to private life in 1983. In 1988, Burton returned to the State Assembly and then moved on to the State Senate in 1996, becoming President Pro Tempore in 1998 until his retirement in 2004.
The cumulative impact of his leadership is significant. While in the State Legislature, Burton focused on a range of issues including access to care, mental health and the prevention of violence and substance abuse. Examples of his leadership include championing legislation that provides health insurance coverage for California’s workers, improved care for the mentally ill homeless and strengthening the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program. Burton was a formidable force against budget cuts to health and welfare programs for the 750,000 blind, aged and disabled Californians who use Medi-Cal. A longtime supporter of violence prevention, Sen. Burton’s advocacy ensured that juvenile crime prevention programs received historic levels of support.
During his 40 years of public service, including terms in the U.S. Congress, the California State Assembly, and the California State Senate, Burton was a champion of California’s most underserved populations. Although he retired as President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 2004, Burton’s commitment to Californians continues as the volunteer chair of the John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes. Through this project, Burton is seeking to address broad changes in the child welfare system relating to foster care. Senator Burton and The John Burton Foundation were leaders in the passage and implementation of California’s landmark AB 12 extended foster care program which allows youth to remain in foster care until age 21.
The Morrison & Foerster Foundation is one of the oldest law firm-affiliated charitable foundations in the United States. Since its formation in 1986, the Foundation has supported charitable organizations in the communities in which the people of Morrison & Foerster live and work.
The Foundation is funded chiefly by Morrison & Foerster partners, with additional support from the firm’s professional staff and other individuals. In 2013, their annual charitable contributions totaled $4 million. Over the years, they have donated more than $40 million, primarily to local nonprofit organizations.
A lasting commitment to purposeful giving is one of the hallmarks of Morrison & Foerster. The Foundation’s board of directors is especially grateful to the firm’s partners and employees for their years of support. Together, they are committed to making a real difference, particularly for their communities’ disadvantaged children and low-income individuals seeking meaningful access to justice.
Faith Margaret Battles is the oldest of three and is a native of South Central, Los Angeles. Faith’s family was among the first wave of families devastated by the influx of “crack” cocaine in the 1980’s. As a result of their mother’s addiction, Faith and her sisters were placed in foster care in 1984. All three transitioned out of foster care at 18 years old, and Faith’s experiences with the foster care system created a real desire to work within the public child welfare system on behalf of other families that would experience the trauma of child abuse and neglect.
Faith earned her BA in Law & Society in 1993 from UC Santa Barbara, and her MSW in 2000 from San Francisco State University. Her work experiences includes working with developmentally disabled youth in a residential treatment setting as well as case managing children and youth in foster care. She began working for Alameda County Department of Children & Family Services as a Child Welfare Worker, and was then promoted to supervisor and was responsible for recruiting and training community partners to be foster/adoptive parents. Faith later promoted to Program Manager and is currently a Division Director over transition, eligibility and placement services for the department. In Faith’s current position she serves as the department’s liaison for AB12.
It is Faith’s intention to provide a transparent and conscious perspective to professionals and caregivers around working with children, youth and young adults that experience the trauma of child abuse and neglect. It is her hope others are encouraged by her approach to the work and consistently find new and creative ways to “do no harm” to families that touch the public child welfare system during what is an incredibly difficult time in their lives.
Ann Whiting has worked with at-risk teens and foster youth for over 30 years. Her experience includes being a counselor specializing in suicidal and LGBTQ teens; a court-ordered family therapist for youth involved in the juvenile justice system; and a social worker, in schools, and with foster/adoption family agencies. Ann became known to Alameda County through her work as a family finder through Family Builders by Adoption, a local foster family agency. She was subsequently hired as a Child Welfare Worker for the Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services in 2011. She currently works with older foster youth supported by AB12 legislation as they transition out of the foster care system. Her passion for the work extends to her life; she has adopted an older foster youth herself. Her philosophy is to hold a strong vision with youth to help them stay positive and work toward their dreams, academically, artistically or however they would define a happy and successful life. She can often be found recruiting foster/adoptive parents at local events. Ann has a BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MA in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in marriage, family and child therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California.
Brian Blalock is a staff attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, where he founded and currently directs the Youth Justice Project (YJP), providing direct representation and systemic advocacy on issues related to youth who are under twenty-five years old. Brian’s work at YJP aims to create a civil legal safety net for youth in the bay area through a strong presence in the community and collaboration with system partners with a focus on reaching youth who are delinquency or dependency involved and/or who have disabilities. YJP’s current projects include working with homeless young adults in accessing appropriate benefits, health, and emergency supports and looking at systemic funding issues that create barriers to entitled services. Brian was instrumental in the implementation of AB12 in Alameda County through countless trainings for judges, lawyers, social workers and probation officers. He also led an effort to establish equitable foster care funding for relative caregivers in California. Brian was formerly a public school teacher in the south Bronx. He has graduate degrees from Columbia and Harvard and a law degree from Stanford Law School.