Who We Are
Healing For Children & Restoration For Families
Serenity is a non-profit foster and adoption agency. Our mission is to break the cycle of abuse through early intervention programs for child victims and their biological family. Serenity’s goal is to provide healing to children and restoration to families through the provision of treatment, resources and quality care. Serenity demonstrates through its programming that abused infants and very young children can overcome attachment and bonding issues, developmental delays, and emotional scarring using therapeutic strategies in a healthy nurturing environment. Serenity provides quality foster care homes for abused, abandoned and neglected children in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Serenity supports the Continuum of Care Reform vision that seeks for all children to live with a committed, permanent and nurturing family with strong community connections. In most instances, reunifying with their biological family is the primary goal. When it appears that reunification efforts have failed, Serenity supports establishing a concurrent plan identifying a secondary permanent home meeting the needs of the child.
In support of this philosophy, Serenity became licensed as an Adoption Agency in 2006 to “dually prepare” foster parents for adoption of the children placed in their home, if reunification is not possible.
Why Children Come Into Care
Children come into foster care because their family is in a crisis and cannot care for them on their own. Foster parents have the opportunity to provide safe, nurturing homes to hurting children while their parents work through life challenges. These children need someone to help them thrive. Serenity will help you understand how to build trust and offer care in a way that allows your foster child to heal.
A child’s length of stay in foster care can range from a couple days to several years. Although children in foster care can be any age, Serenity specializes in newborns and young children up to twelve years old. Most children in foster care will be reunified with their biological family, and about twenty-five percent will be adopted, often by their foster family. No matter how long a child is with you, your gift of love and care will last a life time.
Children in foster care have two common denominators – they have all been placed in protective custody through no fault of their own and each are in need of love and acceptance.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body”
– Proverbs 14:30
In 1990, Inspired by the words of this proverb, the co-founders and directors of Serenity Infant Care Homes planted seeds of hope in the lives of young children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected and placed into foster care.
With the grace of God, these women created a network of quality and comprehensive services to ensure that the cycle of abuse stops when a child enters the Serenity family. The diverse cultural backgrounds, family lifestyles, a broad range of educational achievements and professional experiences blended into a cohesive agency in which the best interest of the children is the highest priority.
Jennifer Jones-Choctaw, Executive Director
Jennifer Jones-Choctaw, Executive Director, received an Associates Degree in Medical Technology, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and a Master of Science Degree in Special Education. Her undergraduate and graduate studies were completed in New Haven, Connecticut after which time she relocated to the west coast with her family. Jennifer also received a Graduate School of Management Certificate from the University of California, Riverside, which prepared her to successfully administrate Serenity as a non-profit, charitable organization.
Following Jennifer’s retirement as Executive Director in December 2016, she will continue to support Serenity’s mission as she revitalizes The Rose of Sharon Foundation founded in memory of Serenity’s beloved co-founder, Sharon Hobson. She will also continue to be available as a consultant to Serenity’s current executive director.
Linda Kontis, Director of Child Placement/Adoptions
Linda Kontis, Director of Child Placement and Adoptions, received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. A former Montessori director/teacher, Linda’s professional training as a foster care social worker, and her personal experience as a foster/adoptive parent, developed the first-hand knowledge and compassion necessary to address the needs of the children and families served by Serenity.
Although Linda retired from her position as Director of Child Placement/Adoptions in December 2016 following twenty-six years of dedication, she continues her love for Serenity’s children and families. She is available as a consultant, to assist with special projects, and ultimately plans to become an active board member.
Sharon Hobson, Director of Social Work/Mental Health
Sharon Hobson, Director of Social Workers and Mental Health, earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Vanguard University and a Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Dominguez Hills. As a licensed therapist, Sharon’s expertise in supervision of the social work staff, coupled with her innate counseling and organizational skills as well as a genuine heart for children, enabled Serenity’s programs to be of the highest quality.
Much to all of our grief and sorrow, Sharon succumbed to cancer in 2008. In her memory and honor the Rose of Sharon Foundation, a fund development component of Serenity, was established. Sharon’s joy and dedication continues to inspire those who knew her.
Ike Kerhulas, PhD
Dr. Ike Kerhulas has dedicated his career to providing and developing quality treatment programs for children placed in the child welfare system. Dr. Ike has served in leadership positions at various non-profit organizations. He served as National Director of Community Based Care for Child Help. In this capacity he oversaw foster care, residential treatment and mental health programming. He was Vice President of Clinical Services at Maryvale, a child welfare agency serving children, adolescents and families. Dr. Ike oversaw Maryvale’s Residential Treatment Program, Emergency Placement Center, Community Based Mental Health Services and the Family Resource Center. He was responsible for developing the Emergency Placement Center and Wraparound Treatment Program. His accomplishments include authoring two winning proposals for Wraparound Services and Child Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment.
Dr. Kerhulas previously worked at the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Orange County where he served as Director of Mental Health Services. He was responsible for the In-Home Crisis and In-Home Mental Health Programs. Dr. Ike successfully supported the agency by authoring winning proposals for In-Home Crisis Stabilization and Community Based Mental Health Services. Prior to that position, Dr. Ike served as Chief Executive Officer at ACTS for Children and Vice President of Programs at Casita de San Jose. Dr. Kerhulas served as a clinical consultant to the Santa Ana Unified School District for four years. He has extensive leadership experience in chemical dependency treatment.
Dr. Kerhulas is an expert in trauma informed care, has incorporated the principles into various treatment programs and has spoken nationally on the topic. Dr. Ike’s substantial work in child welfare has given him the opportunity to expand his experiences through the development of new programs and collaboration with public, private and governmental agencies.
Dr. Ike Kerhulas holds a Ph.D. and Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Ike is married and has one son.
Ike brings a rich background of knowledge and experience that covers broad aspects of child and family services and is a welcome asset to Serenity!
Board of Directors
Warren Hodges, JD
Who We Serve
We specialize in foster homes and programs for abused, abandoned, and neglected infants, toddlers, and children. Although Serenity specializes in babies and toddlers, we do place children ranging in age from birth through 18 years old. Placement of sibling sets is a priority. If unable to be placed within one home, Serenity will assure weekly visitation within the Serenity homes.