In Sacramento County, there are over 1,700 youth who are currently in the Sacramento County foster care system with many of those children in need of a permanent and forever home. Leon Burse, a Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services
social worker helps families learn how to become a foster parent, also known as a resource parent, and connects them with youth who urgently need a loving home.
There is an ongoing need to find and maintain resource families who can support foster youth in Sacramento County. Resource families provide parenting, stability, guidance and love to foster youth until they can be reunited with their parents, or moved to a permanent home through adoption or guardianship. The Sacramento County Resource Family Approval (RFA) program
that Leon works in supports, trains and offers guidance to these families who are interested in opening their homes to our local youth.
“As a Concurrent Planning Social Worker, a major part of my job is helping families understand the process of becoming a resource parent and have them move past any fear they might have of becoming one,” said Leon. “I love my job because I am able to connect families to youth who really need a home. Typically, families are looking for babies, but there are also so many teenagers, African American youth, sibling sets, LGBTQ and youth with medical needs who are in desperate need of guardianship and a loving home.”
With the passion Leon has to help foster youth, it was no surprise to family and friends when he and his wife Dykiesha answered the call and welcomed children into their own home in 2016. Leon and Dykiesha became a concurrent home, one that fosters children but can adopt the child if the child is unable to return to their biological family. After 12 months of reunification efforts, the Burse family chose to go through an appeal process to adopt the two children.
“My wife and I always knew we wanted to adopt, specifically to help LGBTQ and African American youth but like any family, my wife and I had fears before opening our home,” said Leon. “We were thinking we wouldn’t be enough for the kids, but quickly after, our kids proved us wrong when they came home from school every day and would say how much they loved and missed us – all our fears went out the window.”
When advising future resource and adoptive parents, Leon reminds resource families to always be flexible as it is “an endless rollercoaster of uncertainty – be flexible, and keep the child’s best interest in mind.”
“The foster and adoption process can be chaotic, but in the end, it is all worth it – today, my two eldest children who came to us through adoption are 8 and 10 years old and they are the light of my life. My favorite part about being a parent is watching them grow and flourish into the beautiful, healthy kids they are today. I cherish being able to put my small imprint on them,” said Leon.
In November, the Burse family was named a “Family of the Year” during the National Adoption Day Calling Out of Names event at the State Capitol for going above and beyond with their dedication to family and community.
Regarding the designation, Leon said, “My wife and I didn’t do it to be recognized, we did it to become a family. But, we were very honored and humbled, and the kids were on cloud nine”.