Staff Highlight – Manny Frausto
The adoption journey can appear complex, confusing and just overwhelming at times. Because of this, you will rely on your social worker to guide you through the process to finalization. Who are the social workers you will work with when you come to Sierra Forever Families? Let me introduce you to one of them, Manny Frausto, Youth Permanency Social Worker. Manny has been working at Sierra for 6 years. For the last 4 years he has been focused on finding families for those children in foster care who have more than one barrier to adoption.
Manny has been an advocate for youth in foster care since he was a teen. He started working in group homes for foster youth when he was 18 and then when he was in his 20’s he provided permanence for one of the youths he met in the group home. Fast forward 20 years and now that little boy is married, working as an assistant manager, and a father of 3 and Manny is a grandfather.
Over the course of his professional life, Manny moved on from group homes, took 2 years off to work in the State Assembly doing advocacy work for children in the foster care system, and then returned to direct care. Manny has found forever families for dozens of youth. I asked him if there were any similarities with the children he worked with. Manny thought about this a long time and his answer was so revealing. He said “each child has a unique story or a unique situation and we have to acknowledge this when building permanency for that child.”
Many of the kids Manny has worked with over the years have experienced “way too much trauma in their young lives.” Consequently Manny lets the child set the pace of building a healthy relationship with a new family while providing them the appropriate mental health support along the way.
Manny shared many stories about the children and families he worked with. One child entered the foster care system when he was 4 years old. Manny started working with him, trying to find the right forever family for him when he was 11. Manny found the right match, a family that saw the inner strength of this young boy. When he first went to his new family, the child was on medication, and had failing grades. By the following school year, he was mainstreamed, had a B average, and was playing football and guitar. The adoption was finalized 1 ½ years ago.
Many of the families Manny worked with over the years still keep in touch. The relationships he built with the children and their parents are long lasting. As we ended our conversation, Manny said, “I always thought I’d be an advocate for kids. Now I am an advocate for kids and families. That’s what we do here at Sierra, we create families.”