I have a lot of kids. Four, to be exact. Though the little guys are 20-months old and not quite present to their siblings yet, my two older kids are very close. They miss each other when one is away. They hang out, play together, help each other with homework, share secrets, fears and successes with each other. I cannot imagine the day when they have to be separated for college or other opportunities “growing-up” provides them.

Stefanie Van Aken RockStarMomLV Las Vegas Lifestyle Blogger

My little entourage

My siblings and I were pretty close growing up as well, as were my mom’s siblings. I do not joke when I say my immediate family is an automatic 30 people at an event. Sunday dinners with my family is like a small wedding. I could never imagine growing up any other way. It is nice to have a built-in support system. People are usually surprised about how many kids I have, and I have to say, if I didn’t live in Las Vegas, or wasn’t surrounded by so much family, I’m not sure I would have been able to convince my husband (who comes from a much smaller family) that we could do it. We are so blessed, in so many ways.

Stefanie Van Aken RockStarMomLV Las Vegas Lifestyle Blogger

My brother, sister and me with my grandmother at Thanksgiving 2011

My father, however, was not so lucky in his childhood. He was abandoned by his mother at the age of 3. His father had passed away. He was left alone in this crazy town over 50 years ago. He became a ward of the state. He had older siblings, and family in Texas. But instead of being sent back to live with them, he was put into the foster care system in Southern Nevada. Granted, I am grateful there was such a system for a defenseless little guy of just 3 years, but at the same time, it saddens me to think it was my dad. I cannot even imagine one of my twins, or my kids going through the foster care system at that age. And, if for some uncontrollable reason they ever did, I could not imagine them having to be separated from each other and raised in four different families. It’s a sad truth, and an even sadder reality for many of the children going through the foster care system in Southern Nevada.

My mom, dad, (maternal) grandmother, my kids and two of my nephews.

Fortunately, there is a wonderful organization, Child Focus, that works to maintain the bonds of siblings separated by foster care. The non-profit organization was recently acquired by St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, another local, non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of abused, abandoned and neglected children and families.

In southern Nevada, there are over 3,200 children living in the foster care system at any given time.  Of those children, 45 percent are unable to be kept with their siblings during this challenging chapter in their lives.  Once separated, the majority of these children are never reunited. Each year, Child Focus reunites siblings through a variety of programs and activities, including marquee events such as Camp To Belong and the Gift of Giving holiday celebration.

Child Focus St. Judes Ranch Las Vegas

Fifty-five siblings were re-united at a recent 51s baseball game thanks to the efforts of the Child Focus organization and Las Vegas community supporters

Child Focus relies on several fundraisers throughout the year in order to keep these programs available to the children separated from their siblings. I met with two phenomenal women, Debi Puccinelli and Jeanette Schneider, who are leading one of the major events for Child Focus, the MOMS ROCK Tea, taking place this Saturday at Southern Highlands Spa Clubhouse. They lit up when speaking about the sibling events and summer camps made possible through fundraisers like the MOMS ROCK tea, giving these children the opportunity to bond with their siblings, even if it is for a short time. They also spoke of other opportunities for the community to get involved by becoming mentors for the older siblings and offering guidance for paths in education and occupation choices.

Child Focus John Ocegara Nevada Las Vegas

A few of outstanding youth from Child Focus visitng with John Ocegara last year while lobbying for foster children's bill of rights. Your support of Moms Rock makes endeavors like this possible allowing youth leaders to advocate for change.

If you are looking for a great way to bond with your family this weekend, why not attend the MOMS ROCK tea to support Child Focus. There are amazing items in the silent auction, cupcakes donated from Stations Casinos, Rock The Tea will be hosting the Pirates and Princesses portion of the tea and local media celebs, Dave Courvoisier and Mercedes will be the MCs, not to mention some great live entertainment and a Kentucky Derby themed hat contest. I can’t wait to see what the Vegas ladies wear to this event. It’s bound to be a really great time. To get a better idea of what the festivities will be like this year, check out and give the MOMS ROCK facebook page a “Like“!

Support Child Focus at the MOMS ROCK Tea this Saturday, May 12th.

There is still time to save your seat at the MOMS ROCK Tea, this Saturday, May 12th, from 11-1:30pm at the Southern Highlands Spa Clubhouse. Call 702-703-MOMS (6667) or email Kevin@childfocusnv.org to reserve your seats.

Can’t attend the MOMS ROCK Tea this year, but want to support the Child Focus organization? Please visit my post on the Top 10 Reasons to Attend the MOMS ROCK Tea to learn more on how to sponsor a child for camp.

Thank you!