Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone who attended our Inaugural Gala! We hope that you enjoyed the delicious food, the heartfelt stories, and the amazing raffle prizes. 

It was amazing to see a packed room, and feel supported by the community. We are looking forward to our next Gala to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We hope to see you there! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New Positive Parenting Classes Starting Soon!

When it comes to raising kids and teenagers, everyone has an opinion. So how do you know what works? The Triple P - Positive Parenting Program takes the guesswork out of parenting. It is one of the few parenting programs in the world with evidence to show it works for most families.

Triple P gives parents simple tips to help manage the big and small problems of family life. Problems like toddler tantrums.  Self-esteem issues. Bedtime battles. Disobedience. Aggression. Triple P can help you deal with them all - and more!

The Positive Parenting Program has helped hundreds of parents in San Joaquin County since 2012, and thousands of parents around the world over the past 30 years. In this program, small groups of 6-10 parents will meet each week for six weeks.  Free childcare is always provided, and parents will receive a workbook at no cost.  

Groups Starting Soon
In addition to our regular schedule of Positive Parenting groups, we have a Spanish group starting on Tuesday, 8/11and a Teen group starting on Tuesday, 8/18.  Click to register or for more information. We would love to have you join us!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Foster Parent Training

Foster parents are required to have a set number of training hours and topics each year. Once a month, Parents by Choice provides training, childcare, and dinner to help our parents fulfill that requirement. 

Our staff and volunteers provide lots of fun games and activities for the children to enjoy, while the parents are in training. There's a rock wall, video games, play dough, card games, board games, bingo, basketball, and much more! During the holiday, we provide costume contests for the kids to participate in as well as having the Fire Department come out and show off their trucks. 
The kids have a blast and can't wait until our next meeting. 

Recently, we started providing Teen Trainings to help the teenagers learn important life skills and scholarships/grants that are available for them. We hope to be able to enhance this into taking the teenagers on college tours and other fun activities. 

Our foster parents enjoy learning and revisiting topics like positive discipline, trauma informed care, gender diversity, and much more! 

To learn more about how you can volunteer, visit

Monday, July 13, 2015

Positive Parenting Program

Being a parent is hard work.  But help is available!  Through our “Positive Parenting Program,” Parents by Choice offers FREE parenting groups designed to reduce stress and improve the atmosphere of your home.  In this program, we offer small groups of 6-10 people who will meet each week for six weeks.  Through these groups, you will learn skills and techniques that you can put into practice right away!

Our groups are relaxed and casual, and will help you build on the skills and knowledge you already have.  You will receive a workbook and childcare at no cost.  We would love to have you join us...and you’ll be glad you did.
Parenting now comes with an instruction manual...

  • It all starts with a call (209) 478-4554.
  • Our groups are offered at locations all around San Joaquin County.  Contact us to find the best time and location for your family.
  • There is absolutely no cost to participate,
  • and groups are open to all families in San Joaquin County.
  • Childcare is provided at most groups.  Please contact us to verify this information.
  • Our approach is non-judgmental and supportive.  We are here to help you!
  • The information in the Positive Parenting Program has been used for more than
  • 30 years, with a variety of families, and has been proven to work.
  • You could see results at home in a matter of weeks!  Why not give the Positive Parenting Program a try

Here's what others are saying about our program:

“Our child has gotten better because I have been firm and my husband and I are on the same page.  Everything our facilitator told us to do helped us greatly.  I am thankful for being part of a great group and teacher.”

“Every meeting was coordinated in an orderly manner.  The staff was very friendly and always willing to answer my questions.  I would recommend Triple P to every parent desiring to improve their parenting skills or child’s behavior!"

"My 10 year-old son told me: 'Dad, you've changed a lot!  You are much calmer than before.  Can Mom take that class, too?'"

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Huge Thank You!

A huge thank you to all of our staff and volunteers who worked in our Fireworks booth this year! We could not have done it without you. Some days were in the 100s and other days we were worried it was going to rain, but we made it through. Thank you for all of your hard work and sweat.

Also thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets and/or fireworks from our booth. We enjoyed listening to your stories and how you planned to spend your Fourth. Our staff members loved seeing how excited the raffle prize winners were. Congratulations again to Ruben our first prize winner, Yon our second prize winner, and Robert our third prize winner.

All of the money that Parents by Choice received from the Fireworks Booth will go to our special events for children in foster care. Paintball, where we take our bravest souls out to play paintball. Girls Spa Day, where we treat our girls to make up, manicures, hairstyles, and much more!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Do you love fireworks? Parents by Choice will be selling Phantom Fireworks!

Our booth will be located on the corner of Hammer and West Lane by the Carl's Jr from Sunday, June 28th to Saturday, July 4th.

Save on sales tax by printing this Coupon and bringing it by the Parents by Choice Fireworks Booth.

Parents by Choice is also doing a raffle. $5.00 for a chance to win the Backyard Bash a $599 value! Stop by the Parents by Choice booth to get your raffle ticket.

Your donation will go towards helping us plan our specials events for children in foster care. We have Paintball, Parents Night Out, and Girls Spa Day coming up. Help us by buying Fireworks from our booth!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"It's Amazing What They've Done For Me"

The Stockton Record
'It's amazing what they've done for me'
written by Lori Gilbert
May 20, 2014

Shonda Emery was in a car in South Carolina on Friday, making her way to Tennessee to help her daughter Ellen fix up the house on a 60 acre farm she recently purchased.

It's not where the Modesto woman expected to find herself.

Sitting at Ellen's funeral was more likely.

At least that's what Emery was told when she took in Ellen as a foster child, one of nearly 100 she's taken in over the past 17 years.

In fact, social workers often told Emery that most foster boys she was given were destined for an early demise or jail, and the girls would end up pregnant and on welfare.

Emery refuses to give up on the teenagers who land in her five-bedroom home, and is the kind of foster parent for whom National Foster Care Month, held every May, is intended to recognize.

"Unfortunately, a lot of times(foster parent) news is crisis-orientated or event-oriented, so a lot of the work falls under the radar," said Tony Yadon, who started Parents by Choice in Stockton in 2006 after previously working for another agency that places foster children. "National Foster Care Month gives us an opportunity to catch people's attention and say, ...'Here's what's going' on, 'Here are stories you don't hear about.'"

Stories like Emery's.

"Shonda is an amazing individual. She is a person who has dedicated her life to helping teenagers," said Yadon, whose agency currently has 46 foster families. "Her life is built around being a mom to teens."

He then tells about one of her sons who is serving time at Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy.

"Shonda has been the one person who has consistently visited that young man," Yadon said. "He's not in care anymore. He made bad choices and broke her heart, but she's been consistent in her support of him."

Once they become her foster children, Emery considers herself their mom for life.

At Christmas her stairway banister is covered with a stocking for every one of her children, just in case he or she returns.

A few years ago when Emery and her second husband faced foreclosure on their home, her biggest concern wasn't about the two of them.

"My biggest fear is if someone came home and needed to find me, they couldn't find me," Emery said, breaking into tears. "I couldn't leave a note on the door. My husband and I made a commitment this house will always stay in the family."

Foster children age out of the system at 21-18 until legislation increased the age limit in 2010 - but Emery has no clock on her love.

"Seven or eight years ago, I had six foster kids, my two daughters and four older foster teens," Emery said. "It was me, my foster daughter's baby and (four foster daughters) sharing my room. It's because they had nowhere to go. I kept calling the county and telling them they were homeless. I told them, 'You took them away from their parents and became their parents. When they turn 18 you don't stop being a parent.' They were telling me I'd lose my license because you can only have so many people in the house."

Ultimately, some of the older children moved in with other children Emery had cared for, and her mom took in one. The others stayed and Emery and her family kept quiet about the number of people in the home.

If she broke the rules, she did so because her family needed her. She is first and foremost, a parent.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 26, Emery could never bear children. She and her first husband became licensed foster parents and adopted two girls, now 18 and 17, when they were 2 and 1.

"We had younger children the first three or four years when our girls were little," Emery said. "Emotionally that was too hard when they would leave and I would never see them again."

Finally, she was asked to take in two brothers, 11 and 16.

"I definitely wasn't equipped to be a parent of a teenager at the time," said Emery, who is now 43. "We were pretty close in age, but he is one of my greatest successes. His social worker brought him to me with his little brother and told me the little brother was a cute little boy who deserves a good home and a chance. She said the older brother was in a gang and selling drugs. She said to give him a couple weeks, that he's screw up and be gone. He ended up in the military and is graduating next week from college. He's going to be a nurse. He's a straight A student. It's sad that we put such limitations on these kids. It's reinforced that they're never going to be anything."

She fights that stigma one child at a time beginning with Daniel, who is about to become a nurse.

"I just had to stay with him," Emery said. "We had a lot of problems. He had drug issues. He got grounded a lot. He wrecked my car. He could have left after he wrecked the car, but he stayed and worked off the expense. Another one of my girls ran up a phone bill to $4,000 calling Australia every night. She could have left and said, 'I'm not paying this,' but instead she paid it off over the years. Sometimes it was $100 and sometimes it was $10, but she paid it off until it was zero."

On Friday, Emery was in the car of that now grown daughter headed to her property in Tennessee.

"Most of us as parents end up parenting teenagers whether we like it or not, but to choose to take on someone else's teenager puts you in a whole other category of wonderful person," said Yadon who has placed 21 teens with Emery over the last seven years.

"It's amazing what they've done for me," Emery said. "There's so much time in foster care when the young feel hopeless, like they're never going to amount to anything. It's amazing to me they trusted me. They're my biggest heroes. How scary was it for them to love me, brave enough to love me so I could love them back."

There are heartbreaking stories of foster care gone wrong, and there are problems with a system overburdened with children whose biological parents have given up on them or can't be bothered with, but there also are people like Emery who give reason to National Foster Care Month.