On Nov. 19, County Supervisors expanded the new Child & Family Strengthening Advisory Board to better serve children and families in the foster care system.

The Board, co-chaired by Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher, was created this past year to make meaningful changes to the San Diego County Child Welfare System, as well as other systems that ensure the safety and well-being of children and families with the goal of strengthening families. It also serves as a platform for collaboration and encourages the community to provide direct input and stay informed.

Supervisors Cox and Fletcher proposed adding members with lived experiences in the Child Welfare system. The four additional members bring the Board up to 25 members.

The newest members are:

Sade Burrell of Spring Valley, a foster youth advocate and San Diego Mesa College FAST Scholars and NextUp Counselor/Coordinator.

Melissa Villagomez of La Jolla, Development and Special Events Manager with Walden Family Services, foster care, adoption, and youth services agency.

Simone Hidds-Monroe of National City Youth Services Associate Director for Just in Time for Foster Youth.

Jessica Heldman, of San Diego, a Professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and Chair of the Polinsky Children’s Center Advisory Board.

“After a thorough search, we are excited to announce the addition of these four caring, dedicated individuals to the Child & Family Strengthening Board,” said Supervisor Cox. “These new members will bring lived experience and unique perspectives to the Board to help us improve the lives of youth and families in our child welfare system throughout the region.”

Supervisor Fletcher said, “These new members will contribute to the effectiveness of our Advisory Board. Their lived-experience and ideas will help our broad coalition drive change in our Child Welfare System. We are glad to have them on the team.”

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