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Eastern Region of Maryland Names their 2011 Foster Parents of the Year

BALTIMORE:  (May 25, 2011)  – During May, which is Foster Care Month, Maryland recognizes local families who make a significant difference in the lives of children who are in need of a safe and loving home.  Earlier this month, First Lady Katie Curran O’Malley and Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) Secretary Theodore Dallas honored families during a reception at Government House.  Each jurisdiction also hosted a special “thank-you” event for their foster parents and the children in their care.

Foster Care is a temporary placement that provides short-term care and supportive services to children who are unable to live at home because of child abuse or neglect.  The foster care program in Maryland encourages foster parents to play an active role with the birth family in planning and carrying out the goals of the permanency plan.  Foster children are placed in homes that are in their own community, thereby keeping the children connected to their home school, friends, and resources within their neighborhood.

 Across Maryland there are over 7,000 young people in foster care – 50 percent of them are 13 years of age or older.

The 2011 Foster Parents of the Year from Eastern Maryland are:

Eastern Region Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties

 Jurisdiction: Caroline County

Honorees: Elizabeth and Ronald Nichols

Elizabeth and  Ronald Nichols  are foster parents for the second time. They had previously adopted five children.  Their adopted children are now adults, so they have re-opened their hearts and home to children in need.   

Since re-opening their home, they provide respite care, foster care, and are an emergency placement resource. They have never turned a child away .This couple serves as role models and are available to help other foster parents cope with difficult situations.

Jurisdiction:  Dorchester County

Honorees:   Delinda and Robert  Milton

Delinda and Robert Millton have been an agency approved resource family since December 1, 1991. Since that time they have provided a safe, loving and nurturing environment to 37 children in out of home placement. At this time, Mr. and Mrs. Milton are caring for an infant set of twins.  During their   19 years of service,  they have been a strong advocate for children and their families. Their genuine compassion and concern is evident in the lasting relationships they have established with many of the children’s birth families. They have mentored newly approved foster parents, supported established parents and served as PRIDE co-trainers.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Milton have provided the children in their home with an environment where they are able to maintain family connections and thrive. They have diligently worked toward the goals and mission of the agency.

Jurisdiction:  Kent County

Honoree:  Helen Nicholson

 Helen Nicholson is the paradigm by which all leaders in the foster parent community should be modeled.  With years of experience as our Foster Parent Association President, Helen has demonstrated great leadership ability.  Whether it is collaborating with the department to make sure that foster parents receive the training and certifications that they need, organizing annual Christmas parties, setting up booths at foster parent events to spread the word about the Maryland Foster Parent Association, Helen has done it all.

 Leading by example is also one of Helen’s strengths.  Helen’s dedication to  children is a shining example of that leadership.  There is no child to whom Helen will not offer a placement, whether it is for one night or several months.  Helen has worked with children of all ages including infants and teenagers and children with emotional, psychological, and developmental disabilities. 

Jurisdiction:  Queen Anne’s County

Honorees:  Sharon and David  Quinn

 Mr. and Mrs. Quinn became involved in the local Foster Parent Association soon after their approval as foster parents and have been an integral part in working to keep this small local organization going.  Mrs. Quinn is currently the treasurer of the local association but because the association is so small she must wear many hats at all times. 

Mr. and Mrs. Quinn have been warm and welcoming to  new families and have encouraged membership to the association.  Mr. Quinn was nominated and has been on the Queen Anne’s County Department of Social Services Board as its Foster Parent representative for the past year.  He provides knowledge to the board from the foster parent perspective, as well as works on fundraising and networking to raise funds for summer camps for foster children.  Mr. and Mrs. Quinn are respected advocates and leaders in the community and have also been wonderful foster parents to two little girls in the past year.

Jurisdiction: Somerset County

Honorees: Gale and Maurice Selby

Gale and Maurice Selby  have been dually licensed for foster care and adoption by Somerset County since 1998. They have been leaders and mentors to other foster parents in the  local community, as well as an excellent example of a foster family. Mr. and Mrs. Selby adopted five children, have had well over a dozen children placed in their home over the years, and helped dozens more children for weekends, a day here and there, or even for one afternoon.

As a stay at home parent, Mrs. Selby made a point to help out other foster families that needed help during the day. Mrs. Selby never wanted to turn down the opportunity to help a child.  They maintain connections with some of the children that had lived with them, including phone calls, attending sports events, attending birthday parties, and visits in their home. They believed in the importance of  family connections, and relationships that last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, Gale Selby passed away in September of 2010, but the impact she had on the many children in her care will forever live on.

Jurisdiction: Wicomico County

Honorees:  Melissa and Thomas Darling

Melissa and Tom Darling have exhibited leadership and support to fellow Resource Home providers and to the local department. The Darlings have vitalized the local Foster Parent Association by increasing attendance and participation, lending ideas for future meeting agendas, and demonstrating  a genuine show of support to other providers.  While Melissa Darling is an active meeting participant, Tom Darling assists with providing daycare for the children of those attending.

 The Darlings attended agency events and networked  with other foster parents to identify common  needs, including establishing a visitation schedule to ensure contact for a sibling group.  This visitation plan continues today.

 Jurisdiction:  Worcester County

Honorees: Rick and Anne Rambo 

 When Anne and Rick Rambo began attending the PRIDE training in 2006, their interest was in adoption only. They had no plans to be utilized as a foster home.  In those 9-weeks of PRIDE, Anne and Rick began to look at their plan differently. They recognized the need that Worcester County and its children had for foster parents. After much thought, discussion and prayer, Anne and Rick felt that whether it be for a short time or a longer duration, they would give their best to a children in need.  

 Their first placement resulted in Anne and Rick adopting a child  who was only a few weeks old when placed with them. They have a current placement of a 2-1/2 year old who has been with them since birth.  In the course of these two years, Anne and Rick have worked diligently with the birth mom towards reunification. 

 The Rambos have a strong understanding that foster care is not just a service for the child, but for the family too. They have been instrumental with the visitation between the mom and her child. They even helped the mom to “childproof” her home in preparation for the visits. They continued to support visitation and advocated for the mom even when she had regressed.  They were there to assist her while making sure the child was safe. 

 As their family grew, they decided to make some changes in the structure of their home.  They remodeled and made the necessary changes so they could continue being a foster home resource.

For information about becoming a licensed foster/adoptive parent, contact the local department of social services in your area, or call 1-800-332-6347, or attend a regional information session for prospective foster/adoptive parents.

 

Filed in: Adoption and Foster Care, DHS News, In this County

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