Better Choices, Inc/Ready for Life Foster Family Agency

Fostering hope and transforming lives one child at a time.

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Address: 962 Maraglia Street
Redding, CA 96002
County: Shasta
Phone Number: 530-222-1826
Better Choices, Inc. /Ready for Life is a private, non-profit agency, founded in October of 2000. The idea was conceived after the founder, Nena Panza, along with her husband, Rick, had been resource parents for approximately ten years in addition to being group home parents to teen boys. After the realization that traditional foster care seemed to have a few laws, Ready for Life was made a reality. In an effort to proceed with our mission, Ready for Life went under the umbrella of a larger non-profit to start its foster family agency. In July of 2003, Ready for Life Foster Family Agency decided to venture out on its own. With the help of many community members, our own Board members, and Tehama County (our support county), we began the journey. On September 11, 2003, Better Choices, Inc. /Ready for Life was licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing unit.

Ready for Life has been committed to helping provide safe, loving homes to hundreds of foster children in Northern California since 2003. It is evident that Rick and Nena Panza, founders of Ready for Life, have a profound desire to see the children of our communities succeed. Ready for Life was established to provide children with vocational, social, and
life skills while providing a safe haven for personal growth and physical care. Ready for Life Foster Family Agency is a faith-based organization, and as such, strives to support our families, children, and staff with daily prayer, guidance, and encouragement, as we endeavor to raise these precious children together. As a private foster family agency, Ready for Life receives calls to place children from counties all over Northern California. This includes, but is not limited to Shasta, Tehama, Trinity, and Siskiyou County.

To ensure every child has the opportunity for stable, life-long relationships and hope-filled expectations.

Fostering hope and transforming lives one child at a time.

• God's Unconditional Love
• Hope
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Family Relationships
• Safety
• Community

Our logo is a symbol of the transformation a child in need can experience with the help and encouragement of the right resource family. The circle is broken, symbolizing the "breaking of a dysfunctional life cycle." The butterfly shows the spiritual transformation from within that they can experience. When combined, these symbols create a logo that represents our philosophy.

Resource families are foster, adoptive, and relative caregivers who play a key role in the life of a child in care. When relatives cannot be a placement option for the child, every effort is made to actively recruit and support resource families within the child's home community. This is not only a change in terminology from foster family/parent to resource family/parent, but also includes a new approval process, known as Resource Family Approval (RFA). The new approval process allows families to be cleared for foster care, guardianship, and adoption up front.

Ready for Life Foster Family Agency offers support to our resource families in the following ways:

Compatibility: In an effort to successfully place children in your home we provide each family with a Compatibility Inventory during the Home Study process which identifies information vital to promoting the best fit between child and family.

Support Groups: Once a month come to talk about foster-specific issues or situations you may be facing with other families who have had similar experiences.

Date Night: Drop all the kids off and enjoy a night out!

In-House Training: Each resource family is required to complete 24 hours of training each year. We have at least two in-house training options with free childcare per month.

Facebook: Stay up to date with everything happening at Ready for Life and with other resource families in the agency through our private Facebook.

Respite Care: Family Emergency? Weekend away? Need a break? Utilize other approved resource families for short-term care while you rest and come back refreshed.

Family-Friendly Events: Ready for Life hosts events throughout the year to promote community among resource families.

In-Person Orientation: Resource families attend 12 hours of orientation with a supervising social worker before a child is placed in their home. This gives an opportunity to hear from current and previous resource families as well as to ask any questions.

On-Call Social Worker: If you ever have an emergency in your home after-hours, you can call the office and reach the on-call social worker 24/7 for help.

Donation Closet: We have a number of people who generously give clothing, pajamas, books, hygiene items, school supplies, blankets, diapers, etc. This helps us to equip families when a child comes into their home.

Before resource families can be approved, they must go through Orientation. Orientation is now two Saturday sessions which introduce families to the process of foster care, the needs of foster children, and the paperwork required. A panel made up or current or former resource families share their experiences and answer questions. To meet annual training requirements for families, RFL offers a variety of training opportunities throughout the year-- book club style, support groups, and distance learning. In addition to attending training at RFL, there are many community training and online options.

We believe children are more than numbers, but every number represents a child. Ready for Life had 75 children in care in 2017. We received 330 placement calls, 54 children were placed with Ready for Life Resource Families, 1 non-minor dependent transitioned to independent living, 7 children were placed with family members, 9 children were adopted by their forever family, 8 new resource homes were approved and 11 children reunified with their biological parents.

2018 SO FAR
We have approved 17 new resource family homes!

"Ready for Life lives up to its name. All along the process each person I met and worked with helped me to feel ready for life as a foster/adoptive parent."
Bonnie | Anderson, CA

"Ready for Life was very informative through the certification experience and 100% on board with helping us through this wonderful process. Everyone was knowledgeable, professional, and kind." - RFL Foster Parent

"All the staff is great. They care about us along with the kids. When we had a crisis RFL returned all our calls an they were ready to come if needed. They looked for ways to help." - RFL Adoptive Parent

"The agency has always been a group of warm and loving people who we consider in many ways extended family. They have always been patient with us, caring for our needs and the needs of the children we've had the joy of fostering."
David | Redding, CA

"Today is the day we have all worked so hard for-- to see a family restored. Please pray for our hearts as we say goodbye to the two precious children we have poured our hearts into for the last five months. We have no regrets. We would do it all over again. Their mom is a champion! She has overcome so much and fought so hard to get to this point. We are privileged to have walked this journey with her. If you have ever entertained the thought of being a foster parent, I highly recommend looking into it. If you are a local, check out The staff is amazing and they will answer any questions you may have."
Sarah | Redding, CA

"Never in a million years did I think that when we switched to Ready for Life Foster Family Agency that I would also gain immeasurable friendship, understanding, and support! Thank you from the bottom of my heart"
Lindsey | Redding, CA