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Metro Departments of Social Services Name 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 the Metro region are:

Metro Region

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties

Jurisdiction:  Anne Arundel County

Honoree:  Debra Williams

 

Debra Williams has been an approved resource parent since August 10, 1995.  She has provided care for 38 children over the 15 years.  She became a treatment foster parent in 2004 to care for a special needs child.

 In the fall of 2009, Debra took on the responsibility of the Foster Parent Association President.  At that time, the association was without leadership and it was dwindling.  She quickly networked with other resource parents to plan and organize the annual Holiday party.  Under her leadership, the association was able to locate a facility, arrange for food and activities and ensured every child received a photo with Santa and a gift.  Ms. Williams has also served as an “area coordinator” for the Glen Burnie resource parents since the inception of the program several years ago.  She serves as a mentor to other resource parents in that area.  Ms. Williams has also served as a “buddy” to new resource parents – especially when they accept their first placement. 

Jurisdiction: Baltimore County

Honorees: Ken and Lois Sheeler-Duncan

Baltimore County Department of Social Services approved Ken and Lois Sheeler-Duncan as foster/adoptive parents on November 30, 2007.  This family has always been committed to working with children and families.  They were foster parents for an adolescent female in 1987.  When she left the home, they maintained contact with her.

 They have had seven placements since 2007.  Two of these placements were siblings.  They are currently providing care for four children.  A sibling group of three has lived in the home since November 2010.  This family maintains contact with the children and their birth parents when children leave their home.  They are supportive, respectful, and non-judgmental when working with birth parents.  They model behavior for birth parents in a non-threatening manner.  Their work with birth parents has supported reunification. 

The home is structured with consistent expectations.  They advocate for the children in the school setting and provide educational support in the home.  The children are exposed to cultural events, church, and opportunities to travel.  The home is best described as a “fun place to be.” 

Jurisdiction:  Howard County

Honorees:  Jennifer and Jason Hunter

 Even though Mr. and Mrs. Hunter are fairly new resource parents, they have immersed themselves into this role with excitement and full commitment.  They have had two teenage girls with significant challenges placed with them.  One of the young ladies is now in college and is no longer in their care. 

 Mrs. Hunter has supported other foster parents by speaking to the PRIDE foster parent training class about her experiences as a rookie foster parent.  She very articulately painted a realistic picture of what it was like to have a teen from another culture enter her home and shared many of the details that a resource   parent can and should be aware of in doing so.  She has actively been involved in a grueling criminal trial related to the abuse of one of the teens in her care and has supported the teen throughout the process.  With both teens that were placed in her home, Mrs. Hunter understood and carried out the responsibilities of a resource parent with regard to family centered practice and was supportive of healthy birth family relationships.

  Mrs. Hunter has demonstrated her leadership as a resource parent through her support of the Independent Living Program.  She presented at an Independent Living Class about her career.  In addition, Mrs. Hunter participated in a “Meet and Greet” with our teens and resource families to help promote the placement of teens in local homes.        

Jurisdiction: Montgomery County

Honorees:  Migdalia and Thomas Goba

Migdalia and Thomas Goba have been licensed as foster and adoptive parents since October 2007.  They have an 11-year-old son who along with his parents have welcomed two foster children who are siblings, ages two and three, into their family and into their hearts.  Mrs. Goba, with her leadership qualities, her activism in the community and her medical knowledge has taken an active interest in supporting Montgomery County’s foster parenting programs. 

Mrs. Goba was instrumental in initiating and organizing a recruiting event at the National Institutes of Health.  Mrs. Goba also serves on the Citizen’s Review Panel, a panel that consists of community members appointed by the County Executive who focus on improving services to vulnerable children and their families.  Mrs. Goba facilitated a discussion group for social workers to get their input about mental health issues and with a group of foster parents to learn their perspective.

 Mrs. Goba has been a valuable contact in the recruitment of other foster parents at National Institutes of Health.  In addition, her knowledge and sensitivity have made her a highly respected member of the Citizen’s Review Panel.  Her activism and interest are in addition to the everyday challenges of raising three active, wonderful children. 

 

Jurisdiction:  Prince George’s County

Honoree: Edward Dickerson

Edward Dickerson has been a foster parent with the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services since October 2003.  He describes his experience as “a welcomed change in his life.”  Mr. Dickerson is a single parent and has expressed that watching his foster son mature and grow has been one of the most gratifying rewards of being a foster parent. 

 Mr. Dickerson is a role model for other resource parents.  His enthusiasm, dedication, and support to the department, children, and other foster parents make him a special and unique person.  He is an active member of the Foster Parent Association and is always willing and available to provide assistance and input whenever requested.  Recently, he agreed to serve as a panelist for a focus group on “Fostering and Adopting Teens,” and to participate in a Match Party event specifically geared toward providing permanence to teens. 

 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, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, DHS News

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