When Jordan Bernay, Kids Central Trainer/Job Coach, heard the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) was looking for nominees for the Foster Parents of the Year Award, he knew who to nominate. Jordan has worked closely with foster parents, Jaimie and Danny E., for two years, since they were in his foster parenting classes. Jordan knew they were the kind of foster parents deserving of such an honor. He was right, they were chosen to be the recipients of this year’s FCC Foster Parents of the Year Award. His nomination letter is below. After reading it, you too will understand why they are deserving of this award.
Jaimie & Daniel E. completed a foster parent pre-service class with me in April of 2014 and were licensed shortly after. While they were attending this class, they decided they would try to care for teens. They initially thought this was not something they would want to do, as they have two younger biological children. They stated that they would give teens a chance, and they would call me if they needed any help. I took them up on this proposal.
The first placement they received was a teen who would soon turn 18 years old and “age out”. They were successful, as the youth went on to college and still comes “home” during her breaks from school, or to do laundry, etc. Their second teen placement did not go as smoothly. Next, a teenage girl was placed in their home who had blown three prior placements with four runaway episodes in just over two months. As expected, she ran away as soon as she was placed in their home. During that weekend, the E.s searched tirelessly for her, and she was recovered on a Sunday night. She had a scary incident while on the run. They called me Monday morning to come meet with her and to assist them in preventing future runaway episodes. They fiercely advocated for this child. I met with them and the teen, and I began working with the teen- seeing her and speaking with her at least once a week. At the time, she was going through a lot. The parents remained a stable loving home for her, and I continued to work with her as well. The parents also worked with the teen’s biological mother. They facilitated visitations, had her over to their home for holidays and dinners. They even assisted her in finding services and negotiated with a landlord that was going to evict her!
Since then, unfortunately, the mother relapsed and was unable to be reunified with her daughter. She had her rights terminated in February. The E.s have started the process of adopting this teen who lovingly refers to them as “Mom & Dad” now. She graduated high school this year. She obviously does not run away anymore. This teen’s life has been completely turned around by this loving home and has without a doubt, found her forever family. Words cannot describe the differences in this child over the last two years, and the wonderful job this family has done with her.
As if that were not enough, during this time, they also fostered a very energetic four-year-old as well. During the time they had him, the foster mother facilitated sibling visitations on her own. She also persuaded the biological grandmother to take the child. After the grandmother took the child, she continued to help her learn ways to work with the child and also visits the child at the grandmother’s home where he is doing very well.
I am completely honored and humbled to nominate this family for Foster Parents of the Year. They have been a true inspiration to me, as their trainer and in helping to mentor the teenager. They help in recruiting new foster parents and even speak to prospective foster parents on our behalf. This world would truly be a better place with more foster parents like the E.s!