Fostering support through pinwheels

Courtesy photo Promises2Kids’ summer camp Camp Connect brings together siblings that were separated.

Promise2Kids is selling blue pinwheels to bring attention to the issue of child abuse during Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheels will be planted on the lawn of the San Diego County Administration Center on April 26, with a 1 p.m. press conference with County Board of Supervisor chairperson Nora Vargas, and Child Welfare Services Director Kimberly Giardina, in the San Diego’s Pinwheels for Prevention Garden.

Promises2Kids CEO Tonya Torosian said Promises2Kids was founded over 40 years ago and is dedicated to its mission, creating a brighter future for foster children.

“We focus the majority of our efforts mostly in our local San Diego County community, caring for about 3,000 current and former foster children a year,” she said.

At any given time, there are about 2,100 children in out-of-home care and about 30 children awaiting permanent placement, according to the county’s Child Welfare Services.

Torosian said its numbers are higher than the average each year because they work with current and former foster care individuals.

Torosian said in looking at numbers through the county, the majority of children in foster care are there because of some form of neglect.

“It is well over 75% that are there due to child abuse,” she said. “We started looking at how to bring awareness of child abuse and the extent of it in our community. The Child Abuse Coordinating Council, a statewide organization and other states have them, and they came up with a campaign with pinwheels about child abuse prevention. They asked each local community to build off that campaign to raise awareness. So, we decided to do that. We are asking the community to purchase a pinwheel in honor of somebody who cared for them, their own children, and we will put the name of that individual they are honoring on that pinwheel. Then we will plant it in what we are calling a pinwheel garden. Our goal is to have sold a total of 400 pinwheels because that represents the number of investigations that are assigned in any given week of child abuse in our county.”

Torosian said Promises2Kids has several programs to help foster youth.

“Camp Connect is a very unique program as we are the only ones locally that focus on making certain that children that come into foster care with a sibling, then are placed separately, and are with different families and different homes, we make sure they are connected through visitation, at a summer camp, and monthly fun activities,” she said. “The summer camp is coming up. It is reliant on more than 150 volunteers and makes sure that those children maintain that family bond between siblings.”

Torosian said Foster Funds is a “wish granting” program where any child in foster care can write in, and request for financial support.

“Sometimes it is a trip to Disneyland, tutoring, extracurricular fees, and Promises2Kids will provide for those fees,” she said.

Torosian said it provides support to the County’s A. B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center.

“Although we do not run or operate the facility, we did build it,” she said. “Then turned it over to the County who runs it. We continue to provide things like pet therapy, recreation support, peer mentoring to the children while they stay at the temporary shelter.”

Torosian said its largest program is Guardian Scholars, where it looks at the educational and vocational training and support, coupled with mentoring, to ensure children coming out of foster care area able to get the education, training, and support they need to find a career as adults.

“To really be full members of the community and a self-supportive member,” she said.

Torosian said if you cannot buy pinwheels, Promises2Kids takes monetary donations, and volunteer mentors for it programs and summer camp. She said the pandemic has hit the organizations volunteer staffing, and it is not yet up to capacity for volunteers.

To purchase pinwheels, visit