Out of Place: Existing as a Foster Youth
Shay Sorrells, M.S.W.
Chief Program Officer, Project Access Resource Centers
Shay Sorrells is the Chief Programs Officer at Project Access Resource Centers. Shay is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Social Work at USC, she holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from California State University at Long beach and obtained her Bachelors in Psychology from Vanguard University. Shay is a professor of graduate studies at her Alma Mater CSULB and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Courses include Child and Adolescent Development, Community Psychology, Treating Addictions and Couples & Domestic Violence. Shay has worked with foster youth, families in crisis, wrap around services, residential programs, domestic violence survivors, school counseling and affordable housing communities. Shay is certified in Trauma Informed Training and has been a Trainer of Trauma Informed Practices for the Orange County Probation Department, the OC Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Saddleback and Mariner’s churches as well as other organizations. Shay has been asked to sit as a Former Foster Youth voice for Orange County Department of Education and Social Services. Shay is an avid planner and crafting junkie and loves spending time camping, traveling or at the beach with her husband and two boys.
Mother, Student, and Former Foster Youth
Violet is a single mother with a two year old and one on the way. She attends Santa Ana College and is pursuing a degree in Criminology, Law and Societies. Violet grew up in the foster system for 12 years. She currently also works as an administrative assistant.
Resource Parent and Foster Care Advocate
Miguel and Raquel Alcantara began the process of becoming a resource family (foster family) in 2014. Initially they approached the county with the goal of adopting a child, but after attending resource family training, felt compelled to foster children right away. They received their first foster placements—6 month old twins and their 20 month old sister. This was a challenging time but with the help of their family, their church community, and the various Orange County resources at their disposal through the Social Services Agency and the Foster Care Auxiliary they were able to care for 3 children overnight and completed a successful reunification of this family one year later. They soon came to realize that they had a calling to foster children and since 2014 they have fostered seven children. They have also adopted two children, providing the youth with a permanent home and a “forever” family. In addition to growing their family through adoption, the Alcantaras continue to foster other children through County of Orange Social Services Agency.
Over the course of their journey as a resource family, Mr. and Mrs. Alcantara realized the importance of supporting biological families in their efforts to reunify with their children. As a result, the Alcantaras are advocates for family reunification, and now serve as mentors to many of the biological parents who are working to reunify with their children. Miguel and Raquel also assist with the Foster Care Auxiliary, Club Mom and Dad, and support the training of new resource families to help them understand the challenges and rewards that come along with such an awesome responsibility.
The Alcantara family has received a proclamation on behalf of adoptive families in Orange County from the Board of Supervisors for their work as resource parents, educators and advocates.
Peer Mentor, Orangewood Foundation
Foster Youth Voice Representative, Orange County Department of Education
Makaelah Perkins was in the Orange County Foster Care System from birth until the age of 20. She went to 11 different schools throughout her foster care experience, six of which were high schools. After transitioning out of care at 18 years old, Makaelah and her son became homeless. For three years they lived in shelters and Makaelah’s car. She has been in emancipated section 8 housing for over three years. Makaelah currently works as a Peer Mentor for Orangewood Foundation and as a Foster Youth Voice Representative with the Orange County Department of Education.