Fostering Together was nominated and won the Best Practice Award for the PNW Caregiver Conference awarded by FPAWS. Below is what was said about our organization the night of the awards banquet.
BEST PRACTICES AWARD – FOSTERING TOGETHER
Certain kinds of people are really good at supporting foster parents and finding ways to show more adults the importance of caring for kids whose life journeys have been so dreadful most of them can’t even imagine.
Many of those kinds of people work for Fostering Together, a part of Olive Crest. We honor Fostering Together tonight with the Best Practice Award.
Best Practice is more of a bureaucratic term. What it really means in the day-to-day real world of child welfare is that the people who work for Fostering Together have found ways to connect with their fellow human beings to help them understand that we as a society are only as invulnerable to pain and suffering as the most vulnerable among us.
Once they have brought them into our caregiving family, they work tirelessly to keep them supported and satisfied.
Since 1998, Washington State has contracted with private organizations to lead the effort to support and recruit foster parents. Several organizations have done that work over the years. But perhaps no group has done it better than Fostering Together.
Building on the good work done by those other organizations – and hiring many of the same people – since 2008 they have created a statewide network of support that would be the envy of many other states.
The people who are the backbone of the organization are mostly current or former foster parents. They know the joys and challenges of the work because they have experienced them. The concept of fostering together is not foreign to them.
They help build and maintain support groups. They help train foster parents. They provide a shoulder to lean on when the burdens seem beyond bearing. They help organize the appreciation events, the holiday parties, the graduation events. They know the complicated child welfare system and can provide guidance and a roadmap through the maze.
What they don’t seem to know is that there are only 24 hours in a day. Their passion and dedication run deep, no matter the time of day or night – for all caregivers who call them needing help.
When we think of that dedication,
- We think of people like Dru Powers, who in her 8th decade of life still vigorously supports our caregiving community.
- We think of Amber Sherman in Spokane and the Fabulous Foster Parent Friday shout outs she gives to caregivers through the Facebook page.
- We think of people like Shala Crow, who leads the work in Region 2 and was the linchpin for this event tonight.
- We think of Deena Parra, who gives knowledgeable advice through the FIRST program when foster parents face the trauma of an investigation.
- We think of people like Leanne Marshel, Kim Glover and Niki Favela in Region 3 – and so many more across the we could mention who carry the load day in and day out.
- And we think of their leaders, people like Ann Snook and Marilyn Hatfield who provide the strong organizational support necessary to make the work successful in every part of our state.
The key word in the name Fostering Together is “together.”
For those engaged in this work, it is not about measuring success in the usual terms of money earned or honors received. It is measured in the caregivers they have supported and the kids who benefit from that support as a result of everyone to working together.
It is measured in part by knowing they are living up to the words of former Gov. Mike Lowry, “Take care of the children and they will take care of the future.”
For helping us all to better take care of the children and their caregivers, for showing us all how much we can achieve – together – we thank Fostering Together and honor them tonight.