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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Seneca Family of Agencies

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: To help children and families succeed through the most difficult times of their lives.

Target demographics: children and families succeed through the most difficult times of their lives

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 7,000 youth around California

Geographic areas served: California

Programs: foster care, adoption, and permanency; mental health, community based wraparound, and crisis intervention; public school and non-public school education services; and innovative training and support services.

Community Stories

48 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5 jennablaes

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been so impressed by the Seneca OC staff! Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. They genuinely want children and families to succeed. Staff members go the extra mile to make sure that families have the resources they need - helping to provide holiday gifts, groceries (through food drives), and clothing, etc. It's amazing to be a part of such an incredible organization!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was in a high school program for two years supported by Seneca. Things that impressed:
Background and credentials of staff
Use of evidence based treatment plans with concrete measurable goals. This was my preference and comfort zone. To this date I don't know what their preferences might have been which is a great thing.
I felt my son was safe.
The staff went out of their way to help my son's self esteem struggles both in the classroom and out in the community.
Mental health is such an imperfect science but the Seneca staff brought a ton of heart to their efforts and that truly helps.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a Director of Seneca Family of Agencies. In my volunteer work with children, I have always been driven by what Hubert Humphrey said was the moral test of society - how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

Seneca’s mission and passion is to advocate for children whose start in life has been challenged by abuse, neglect or a failure of societal safety nets set up to protect them. Seneca’s driving philosophy is to never give up on a child - we call it unconditional care. Meaning, we assume if a child is having difficulties, they have not failed, but system has failed them. Children falling between the cracks in social services or mental health systems is simply not acceptable. Period.

As a director, I cannot directly reach children in need through our programs – that is best left to the professionals. But I can support children by supporting our staff – I am so very proud of our mission, our leadership and our highly professional and dedicated associates. This is a first class organization doing extraordinary good work.

Stated simply - no child is going to suffer, at least not on Seneca’s watch.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

I admire the work Seneca does. In Orange County, California, Seneca provides an array of programs for children and families with the goal of keeping families in tact when possible. When that isn't feasible, Seneca works to find other family members who can step in and help, foster families or adoptive parents - providing the child a "forever" family. Everything they do is child-centered.

The people who work at Seneca are kind, generous and giving individuals. I'm proud to be associated with such a fine group of professionals and the agency they represent.

Review from Guidestar

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I choose to volunteer my time to serve on the Leadership Board of Seneca because I believe in their mission and value the work that they do on behalf of at-risk children and families. The success stories are truly amazing and I find it so rewarding to hear how our organization changes so many lives. Seneca works with kids who are in the most desperate of situations and helps to integrate them into a safe, loving, permanent family. I am honored to play a part in supporting this important work.

Review from Guidestar

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Seneca Family of Agencies is, in my opinion, one of the top children’s charities of its kind. The array of high-quality services they provide for children and families is astounding and the staff members and leadership are most knowledgeable and passionate about their work. As a member of the Leadership Board I am able to see first-hand the impact Seneca has in the communities in which it serves. The success stories are truly amazing and I feel so honored to play a part in supporting this incredible work.

Review from Guidestar

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am honored to serve on the Leadership Board for this most worthwhile organization. Seneca Family of Agencies is truly changing lives! Their programs are exceptional and their impact in meeting the needs of the communities in which they serve is great. I am pleased to play a role in supporting the important mission of helping at-risk children and their families find healing and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Review from Guidestar

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a board member for many years, I have seen the great impact Seneca Family of Agencies has in the communities in which it serves and the lives that have been transformed because of their good work. I am touched by every success story I hear and feel honored to play a role in supporting the mission of providing Unconditional Care to at-risk children and their families.

Review from Guidestar

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family was provided with Wraparound Services through The Kinship Center in Tustin, California. Our adolescent son was struggling and displayed emotional and behavioral issues that we as a family could no longer manage on our own. The Wraparound group collaborated with our family to find successful and healthful solutions to support not only our son, but our entire family. We were treated with professionalism, dignity and kindness as they developed safety plans, coping mechanisms, boundary settings, parenting tools, and a variety of other essential mechanisms to assist our family. The meetings were well organized and scheduled to meet the needs of our family. The parent partner was always available to help us, and in several cases she talked us through some serious issues to help keep our son safe and alive. The administrator kept us abreast of resources and was invaluable in getting the tutoring needed to keep our son from failing out of school. The youth coach did his job and provided our son with an outlet he desperately needed. Words cannot express the gratitude we have for the Wraparound team and all what they delivered to our family.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have served on Seneca's Orange County Leadership Board for the past two years. Previously, I served six years on the Governing Board of Canyon Acres, a wonderful child welfare organization which was merged into Seneca. The benefits to the families, that we serve in Orange County, as a result of this merger have been amazing. We have increased significantly the number of families that we are helping and the successes in every service offered have grown immensely. Seneca is a highly, professional, results oriented organization with a mission of never giving up.

Review from Guidestar

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am pleased to serve on the Leadership Board for this exceptional organization. The unwavering commitment of staff and leadership to the mission of providing Unconditional Care to children and families in need is admirable and the impact in the communities in which they serve is astounding. Together, we are truly changing lives for the better!

Review from Guidestar

2 Enikia M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It is rare to find a service provider that is so intentional about truly becoming a part of the community they serve...that takes the time to learn and understand the community, acknowledging strengths while learning the needs and then strategically work with community members to address those needs, and build on the strengths. Such is the case with the Seneca All In! partnership. The team, truly believes in the vision of unconditional care and has perfectly complimented our schools' mission to provide unconditional education. The level of service and support that our students receive since the partnership far surpasses even our own expectations of what is possible. The name All In! could not be more appropriate. Truly all of the Seneca staff is personally INvested on the work, in the vision and mission, and ensuring that the students they seve succeed - academically, socio-emotionally, and behaviorally.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The staff of this program have been outstanding. Day after day, in emotionally challenging circumstance, they provide structure, support, guidance, understanding and real compassion. They hold onto the long term positive vision of development. They live the idea of being able to start over, repair relationships, make amends and find real connection. This has made a huge difference to our family. The therapist has been really fantastic. It has enabled my child to cope with a challenging school situation and helped us better understand our child's needs. THANK YOU SENECA!!!!

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have made the choice to serve on this board (and for free) despite the extraordinary time pressures I am under as an attorney for progressive organizations. Seneca has an amazing culture of unconditional care with a remarkable continuum of services to support the kids and families who need it most. The positive energy of its staff is infectious. I am extremely proud to assist Seneca through board service.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

A privilege to serve on the Leadership Board of this most deserving and well-lead 501 (c )3, namely Seneca Orange County.

Review from Guidestar

2

Board Member

Rating: 4

I am a new board member of Kimship so it is difficult for me to offer anything to help. However, I must say that after one board meeting and one visit to Kimship and one to Canyon Acres facilities, and visiting with two of the staff leaders, I could not possibly be more impressed with what the organization brings forth to our community and to those in the community who need their assistance -- all that is done is just outstanding and a true benefit to those who need anything that is offered.

Review from Guidestar

3 Doug25

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Seneca Family of Agencies is the most impressive non-profit I had ever come across. At every level, the staff and volunteers work diligently and passionately to provide critical services for children who need and deserve their assistance. Their centers (Kinship Center, Canyon Acres, Seneca) are constantly bustling with activity, and visiting them would inspire anyone to dig deeper within themselves to help this fantastic group in any way. I'm extremely proud and grateful for the opportunity to have a small part of this team.

Review from Guidestar

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having previously worked at Seneca Family of Agencies for close to 5 years in numerous direct-care and management positions, I had the pleasure and honor to be a part of an extraordinary agency that is unwavering in its commitment to provide exceptional, comprehensive mental health and permanency services for the most disenfranchised youth and families of the Bay Area and beyond. At all levels of the agency, Seneca staff approach their work with a high level of skill, integrity, curiosity and compassion. I have witnessed Seneca's core value of "unconditional care" exemplified through each interaction that staff have with youth and families, community partners, and each other. This simple, yet profound, principle ensures that youth and families receive individualized support (wherever and whenever it may be needed) to assist them in mastering their most complex challenges in a manner that is family-driven, culturally-competent, and emphasizes sustainability and permanency.

Seneca routinely engages in an analytical process of asking "what can we do better" and continually adapts its policies and practices to ensure that youth and families are receiving the highest standard of care - just one of the many ways in which Seneca works diligently to foster a culture of hope, curiosity, and unconditional care. Of the many reputable social service and mental health agencies I have worked for, Seneca stands out as the most exceptional in terms of the expertise and dedication of its staff, advanced training opportunities, and a highly sophisticated organizational structure that promotes fidelity to evidenced-based practices and positive outcomes relevant to the communities served.

Review from Guidestar

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a member of the Law Enforcement profession I work closely with crisis services.
We have established a trusting and mutually beneficial working relationship which ultimately benefits the clients and community. The management and staff at all levels is friendly, helpful and has such a positive outlook on their work. This kind of attitude makes it a pleasure to collaborate on projects and continue bettering relationships now and in the future.

Review from Guidestar

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

Wonderful agency and staff. Their MST program for at-risk youth and their families is highly effective at keeping kids at home, in school and our of trouble!

Review from Guidestar

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I was Head of Studio for a long standing, large, and for-profit video game studio in the SF Bay Area. When we closed our doors in 2013, I had the opportunity to donate our hardware, software and office furniture.

Selecting Seneca as the recipient was the clear choice; their embodiment of compassion, integrity and professionalism is unparalleled. Seneca truly impressed me with their singularity of vision, their ability to effectively execute on that vision, and the substantial and positive difference they continue to make on behalf of at-risk youth and their families. Their service is AAA yet humble; they continue to focus on How To Improve.

I am a fairly busy executive these days, having continued my own efforts in my chosen profession. Once I became aware of GuideStar, I did not hesitate to take the time to write a review, something I rarely, if ever, do. Seneca deserves to be recognized and supported.



Review from Guidestar

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am very proud to say I am former employee of Seneca! Over my five years with the organization, I had the pleasure of serving children and families in clinician, supervisor and assistant director roles within many different programs in community-based services. Seneca's commitment to its staff and clients is unique, with "doing whatever it takes" and "going above and beyond" being a part of every day, every interaction. Seneca's high standards of staff and service, in addition to it's high level of training and staff support, result in its teams being incredibly effective, efficient and professional. During my time at Seneca, I was continuously amazed by the way our staff joined with children and families, community partners and each other to accomplish goals. Although my relocation required me to transition away from Seneca, I hold this organization with extremely high regard and remember my time there as the greatest professional experience of my career. I have never worked in another organization that does what it does better than Seneca!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a former employee of Seneca, and now work for an organization that collaborates with them regularly. Seneca Family of Agencies encompasses such a wide range of programs - community based Wrap services, school support, TBS, intensive foster care, MST, along with a massive training department - and yet they still manage to do all of them exceptionally well. Social work can be an extremely daunting realm to step into, whether you're receiving services or delivering them, but Seneca manages to attract innovative, energetic, skilled, and caring employees that make a world of difference no matter what program the services are coming from. Their approach is holistic and strength-based, and they strive to treat their clients with the respect and dignity they deserve. They work continuously to foster growth and a collaborative spirit in both their employees and their clients, which has made them pleasure to work with. It's been a refreshing to experience the positive culture of care that Seneca has developed within itself as an agency, and to see them inject that culture into the lives of the people and communities it serves. I have recommended it to several people as a great place to work, and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who should find themselves in need of any of the services they offer.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a district level administrator and I have worked closely with Seneca as a broad organization, including their non public, school and community based programs. Given that I have exposure to such a broad swath of this organization it would be difficult to summarize their capabilities and achievement in this format, however, there is a universal ethos, that I think I can speak to that is exemplified by all the Seneca employees that I have worked with, ranging from mental health counselors, TBS workers - all the way up to program/regional directors. Simply, as an organization, Seneca has fostered a staff of true professionals that is committed to doing GREAT work. Seneca's value as an organization is found in its people that consistently demonstrate flexibility, dependability, creativity and commitment, even in the most difficult situations. I don't think we can ask for anything more from an organization that is focused on improving the lives of the most vulnerable youth and families in our community.



2

Client Served

Rating: 5

In mental health there are people who are qualified to do the work and people who are believers in the work. Seneca is full of believers and it makes all the difference

Review from Guidestar

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

If someone had told me my daughter would be where she is today before Seneca, I never would have believed them. Seneca’s ability to adapt to her needs helped her achieve a level of independence I never would have imagined possible. Now I believe she will be able to go to college and live on her own one day. I’m so thankful for everything the program has done for her and our family.

Review from Guidestar

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a social worker in the field and a colleague at a partner organization, I have had the pleasure of working very closely with Seneca Family Agencies both throughout the Bay Area as well as in Orange County.

As a social services, mental health and education organization, Seneca--more than any other non-profit organization in California--embodies the philosophy of 'doing whatever it takes' to meet the needs of their clients and families. They pride themselves on serving the youth and families who have been failed by other systems and organizations, and whose needs have exceeded the capacity of other service providers. In order to meet the family's needs, Seneca strives to hire the best qualified, hardest working, and most culturally responsive; and provides an extensive training process in order to ensure all staff are supported in reaching their professional development goals.

Seneca is one of the strongest non-profit organizations in California and I feel relieved when my own clients are also enrolled in their services.

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter’s Girl Scout troop completed their Silver Award Project for Seneca Family of Agencies. The girls helped with a new school in El Sobrante’, dedicated to helping “at risk” children. The girls worked on creating a library for the school. They collected 1,700 new/used books and spent a day cleaning the library, hanging colorful posters, and organizing the books on the shelves.

Everyone we interacted with at Seneca was professional and completely engaged, looking out for the care, welfare and well being of these children. The principal of the school referred to the students as “her kids” and was thrilled to have a warm, inviting library available for the students.

My daughter was so impressed with the professionalism of the volunteer coordinator and her genuinely kind and thoughtful nature.

Keep up the great work Seneca Family of Agencies!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As the Seneca Student Advocate, I was ask to write a Review on the School and I feel more than welcomed to do so. I've been Attending Seneca for about Three years now. And It has helped me alot In terms of Self Control and Dealing with Emotional struggles. I've changed alot since I've been here. The staff are Really great at their Job and they want you to go Far In LIfe. the job we have Is Truly complexed and they don't get Paid enough for It. but we still do It that just goes to show how much we care about our work and Clients. The benefits this job has for has for Students Is almost Unbeliveble. we have a School Store, Behavioral Contracts, Attendence awards, Sports club, Music club Dance etc... It is Truly Amazing!! And the Staff and Therapist has taught me how to work with kids more Effectively. Because I work with Kids also. they have taught me how to deal with certain situations, and most of all how to Communicate better with my Needs and the stuff I want. But there are some bad things I am going to touch on too. The biggest thing for me In THIS School Is the "Multi-Purpose Room" I like It to a certain Extent. But the fact that we have the Music room In the same buliding as the Computer lab and Library! Is really not smart. I know It's a Multi-Purpose Room but do me a favor! If somebody Is In the Library that means YOU CAN'T PLAY DRUMS, OR GO ELECTRIC. I do like the Idea of a Multi-Purpose Room but Still. Oh and something else that bothers me Is that Students dont't have enough FREE TIME! to be outside, Because at Break they only have TEN MINUTES TO GET THEIR NEEDS MET. And at Lunch again TEN MINUTES, I think they should have at least 15-20 MINUTES for Break and Lunch. And I don't really have too much bad things to say about the Services from Seneca Family of Agencies. When I leave here I will miss the Services here. because I don't think there are too many any Schools like this. So when you are here you will have to make the best of It, I mean because how can you not? when there are so many great things In front of you all at once. And you can benefit from It all! And It Is challenging at first because there are so many rules and guidelines to follow It's OVERWHELMING! and somewhat Stressful and Intimindating. But as you stay here and grow and Observe and mostly LEARN and take In as much as you want to. Then you will learn that all of It Is so you can be better at controlling your actions which Is really great and helpful.

Review from Guidestar

2 Kevin65

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Seneca Center is an incredible example of a highly ethical and caring organization located in the Bay Area of Northern California but providing services throughout the United States and Canada. I have worked in a collaborative relationship with Seneca Center for nearly nine years because of the agency's daily commitment to improving the lives of some of the most marginalized families and children in the United States. I proudly offer my unqualified endorsement of Seneca Center as a place of excellence in the area of human services and high quality childhood education programs.

Kevin Campbell
Model Author for Family Finding
Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health
Consultant

2 Neil2

Board Member

Rating: 5

As the Board Chair of Seneca Family of Agencies and a Professor of Social Welfare with 40 years of experience working with and studying social agencies I am continually amazed at the intensity of human effort invested by Seneca’s staff in working with and caring for many of the most vulnerable and challenging children in our communities. Seneca’s culture and mission of unconditional care for vulnerable children is palpable throughout the organization from the front line staff to the office workers to the administrative leadership. Its services are marked by an exceptional degree of professionalism and an unwavering commitment to giving children the quality of care they deserve and need to flourish. .

I take immense pride in the fact that over the years many of my best graduate students from UC Berkeley worked at Seneca before coming for their Master’s Degrees in Social Welfare and returned to Seneca after completing their graduate education. Seneca sets the professional standard for serving children in need with compassion and intellectual rigor.

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a clinician with solano county mental health. I have worked very closely with Seneca staff on several of my cases. My experience with them has always been pleasant, they have always been professional and extremely helpful. They provide a great service as they reach out to families and children in providing them with hope and leading them towards the path of recovery.

Review from Guidestar

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a training consultant to Seneca's Building Blocks Therapeutic Preschool for nearly 7 years.
Building Blocks is an outstanding program serving children ages 2 1/2 to 6.Treatment at Building Blocks is informed by principles of attachment theory. There is a strong emphasis on developing trusting relationships between child and caregivers. This relationship-based approach is highly consistent with recent research by Li and Julian suggesting that "developmental relationships constitute the active ingredient of effective interventions serving at-risk children." The program integrates a half-day classroom treatment milieu with individual therapy for children and regular family or parent therapy. Building Blocks provides a sufficient intensity of treatment that allows kids with histories of early trauma to begin to thrive emotionally and in relationships, and prepares them to make the transition to elementary school. At the heart of the therapeutic preschool’s intervention approach is the consistent attempt by staff to counter the child’s negative relational expectations that are based on histories of trauma and neglect. In part this involves trying to provide the qualities of secure attachment relationships—interest, caring, attunement, responsiveness, verbal engagement, support for regulation, and readiness to repair mismatches. But staff and therapists also try to remain aware of the the child's negative expectations of relationships and look for opportunities to repeatedly disconfirm them, to offer the child a relationship he or she can trust. Over the years, I have had the opportunity follow the progress of individual children and to observe the effects of the staff’s patient and repeated interventions in the classroom, as well as the effects of individual and family therapy. Many children show great advances in development and mental health, and many parents or caregivers make strides in their ability to understand and support their children.

Review from Guidestar

2 Frank23

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is attending Building Blocks. He is in kindergarten this year and was in their therapeutic pre-school last year. He's adopted and was exposed to cocaine before he was born and that exposure, along with a lot of instability in the first 4 months of his life, deeply affected him. By the time he was old enough for pre-school he was too impulsive and hyper-active to attend a regular preschool. We tried to put him in a very understanding pre-school and he bit and hit the teachers and other students. He couldn't make it in that environment. We found out about Building Blocks, they accepted him and he has thrived there. He's made so many changes and his behavior has improved almost an unbelievable amount. He can focus more, his pragmatic use of language has increased, he rarely bites and he hits much less often and he's better able to relate to us, his parents, and his peers. It's hard to express just how grateful we are to Seneca Center and Building Blacks. I don't know where we would have turned and how we could have helped our son with out them.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Ken Berrick and Seneca while serving as Assistant Director for the City and County of San Francisco, California in 1998. I also served as the Executive Director for Family Mosaic Project, a wrap around program for youth at serious risk for out of home placement due to mental illness. Having previously worked with at risk youth as an African American nurse, clinician and administrator in Los Angeles and San Diego. I was looking for a relationship with a leader of a quality organization who was not just interested in providing services to kids, but providing care to at risk, multi-problem, multi-system involved youth and their families. I was fortunate to find and develop that relationship with Ken Berrick and Seneca. It has been 15 years since that first meeting, and I continue to collaborate and to donate to Seneca Family of agencies because this is a quality organization that provides unconditional care to youth and families that others have rejected.

Dr. Gary D. Zomalt

Review from Guidestar