Sometimes, becoming a resource family to kids in foster care is about celebrating the little things: school improvements, soccer games, and positive attitude shifts along with birthdays and anniversaries. And other times, it’s about celebrating the sheer magnitude of a family reuniting.
At Santa Barbara native Lillian Pipersburg’s house, it’s about both. Pipersburg and her husband, Phillip, regularly take trips to places like Yogurtland to celebrate an achievement with a beloved foster care child in their home, treating all the kids they parent as their own. But they also aim to reunite families whenever possible.
“We’re hoping bio parents go through classes, training, therapy, and whatever they need to do to begin that process,” says Lillian. “That’s happened to a large degree but some have gone on to adoption, too!”
Over the past 31 years, Lillian has mothered an astounding 213 foster children, of all ages and races, from infants to 18 year olds. The African-American mother to four adult biological children and two adult grandchildren notes she’s learned about different cultures thanks to her foster care work. “We’ve become very culturally aware and sensitive to our children’s needs,” she explains. “Kids of all nations feel comfortable with us. And during the holidays we call the families and ask for their recipes to incorporate into our meals.”
Despite their unique histories, children in foster care all have one thing in common: they need families to love and support them. Our County, Our Kids, a program of Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services, relies on resource families who are ready for the life-changing experience of helping to nurture and heal a child who needs a place to call home.
Deeply devoted to motherhood for all, Lillian has been working with the program for decades now, and shows no signs of slowing down.
“I really enjoy this, we’ve become mentors to parents, friends with other family members, I’ve had grandparents in other states that I call about their grandchildren,” Lillian says, “To me, it’s not a task or a complicated thing, it’s just natural for me to be a parent to them.”
Our County, Our Kids is always looking for more people in the county to consider opening their homes and becoming resources for youth as Lillian and her family have.
Anyone interested in learning more about the many ways of becoming a resource for local foster children and youth is encouraged to attend a Resource Family Informational Meeting. Says Lillian, “If you’re available to help, it’s beneficial to them, to you and to our society.”