Story of Atkinson Family Services
Atkinson Family Services began with Jim and Carla Atkinson taking in their first foster child in 1968. In 1977, they moved from San Jose to Sacramento and brought with them 13 children: 2 natural, 3 adopted, 6 foster, 1 guardianship, and 1 child of a family friend. They became licensed as a county group home in 1978 and a state group home in 1983. On May 8, 1984, Atkinson Youth Services, with the motto “Helping Youth Succeed,” was incorporated as part of their vision to provide safe and loving homes for children who had nowhere else to go. Realizing that the children entering her home were coming with behaviors they were not used to dealing with, Carla did some research and discovered the theories of Dr. William Glasser. His Choice Theory/Reality Therapy gave them the tools they needed to help their children evaluate their choices and make more effective ones. This proved to be a defining moment in their lives and the future of the agency.
Once in Sacramento, Jim and Carla Atkinson wanted to increase the number of children they could help. Within the next 17 years, Atkinson Youth Services grew to six group homes, several certified foster homes, and a non-public school. At the base of it all was the desire to utilize the theories of Dr. Glasser to help clients realize the quality world pictures in their heads and to, as Carla Atkinson stated, “…give the children whatever family they want, and to give them the same opportunities as any other child by the time they turn 18.” The agency embraced visitation with family: both natural and other identified family members in a safe and supervised environment. The belief of the agency is that families and children need the time and opportunities to work things out. The expansion of the agency continued with the addition of a Resource Center for current and former foster youth and their families to be able to have access to needed items for independent living. An auto-donation program was also started to help both the group homes and the emancipating youth as well as to raise funds for the agency’s needs.
In 2014 Atkinson Youth Services changed its name to Atkinson Family Services with the motto “Making a Difference” to reflect the changes in the expansion of its mission. The agency expanded its services to include youth, their families, young adults, and the community as a whole. Now in 2017, the state is changing the way we work with foster youth. The agency is rising to the challenge and has plans to offer more behavioral health and therapeutic services in our homes, as well as developing professional training for both its own employees and other service providers. Atkinson Family Services will continue to “make a difference” now and for years to come.