Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest Post by Dr. Sharen Ford

May is Foster Care Month
Today I had the awesome opportunity to spend a portion of my day honoring six phenomenal foster parents from across the state. Our very own Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director Reggie Bicha hosted the first ever lunch appreciation for Foster Care Month. I must say, I've been at the state for over 26 years and this is the first time I've had a governor's office and the executive director reach out in this manner to honor those who give and give and give of themselves. These families came with their foster children of all ages to receive our appreciation for the wonderful job that they do.
We were there to say "Thank You". One foster parent said, "I get my 'thank you' every day by seeing the little differences in the children in my home." I know that the families present at today's event are a sample of the wonderful individuals all over the state that step up to make the difference not only in a child's life but in the lives of their families. Many of the stories shared how these families had worked with the birth parents to support their journey of regaining custody of their children. As Executive Director Bicha shared information about each family a recurring themes of serving, caring, sacrifice and commitment. I was most impressed to see that two of the six foster families served adolescents.
As I sat in the back of the room I thought about the children/youth coming into foster care for the first time and wondered who would be there for them? As though I spoke my thoughts out loud, I heard Executive Director Bicha's parting comments to the foster families ... it was a plea for help. He shared that CO needs more foster homes like yours. He asked each family to share with their families, neighbors, faith community and with whosoever would listen about our need for more good foster homes. Colorado's 64 county departments of human/social services work to help prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting families and providing needed services to them when they are in need. When services aren't sufficient children/youth come into foster care.
Today was Mother's and Father' Day wrapped into one. These foster families were appreciated by us but more importantly by the children/youth they poured themselves into as they clapped and gave hugs to each of the recipients. Their efforts aren't being wasted. Consider becoming a foster mother. You can join the ranks of women and men all over the state who dared to make a difference in the life of another person's child.

Thank you Dr. Sharen Ford for sharing this with us today. Your words always encourage me to continue to press on in the area of advocating for new foster families and supporting the foster families in our community.
You are a blessing to all of us who serve in adoption/orphan ministry in Colorado and across the US. :)

Sharen Ford, Ph.D., is a nationally-recognized child welfare consultant and the Manager for Permanency Services for the Colorado Department of Human Services in the Division of Child Welfare Services.

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