More foster families needed in every community across Colorado
DENVER, May 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — To mark National Foster Care Month and encourage more Coloradans to become foster parents, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) celebrated five foster families during a luncheon at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Saturday. Over the last two years of the pandemic, Colorado foster families have leaned into caring for Colorado’s children and youth, and county departments of human/social services and child placement agencies have continued to recruit and train new foster families.
“The five families being honored are examples of ordinary Coloradans doing something extraordinary to strengthen families and their community. Their support for reunification and commitment to caring for youth is remarkable,” said Michelle Barnes, Executive Director of CDHS. “They are an inspiration for others to consider what they can do right now to make a difference for kids and families.”
When parents need additional support to provide safety and care for their children, county human/social service agencies work to meet those needs while keeping families together. If that is not possible, caseworkers first look for kin — adults who have an established, trusted relationship with the child — to step in. If no kin is available, a foster family is there to provide safety, stability and care. Today in Colorado, there are 3,735 children and youth living with Colorado’s 1,937 certified kinship and foster families. Additionally, there are 402 children and youth in the foster care system who are waiting to be adopted.
Every community in Colorado needs more foster families as the state continues to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). Family First is a federal law that, among several other provisions, seeks to ensure children and youth who cannot live safely at home are living in a kinship or foster family home rather than in a congregate care setting. Many of the families recognized by CDHS this year excel at caring for older youth who might otherwise live in a congregate care setting, such as a group home or residential child care facility.
Being a foster parent, while challenging, can be extremely rewarding. In Colorado foster parents can be:
- Single, married or in a committed relationship
- All races and ethnicities
- All sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions
- Homeowners or renters
- An experienced parent or a first-time parent
- Older or young (minimum 21 years old)
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit CO4Kids.org.
The five families being honored by the State of Colorado for National Foster Care Month are:
Jess and Kevin Andrews from Idalia – certified by Yuma County Department of Human Services
Jess and Kevin became foster parents 10 years ago and have provided foster care for more than 15 children and youth, in addition to hosting foreign exchange students who have also come to be like family on their large ranch. They creatively problem solve to create safe environments for young people in their home and keep in contact with children and youth after they leave. Jess and Kevin recently finalized their second adoption and continue to serve as foster parents in their rural community where foster homes are needed to keep children and youth close to their communities.
Bob and Molly Cortinez from Commerce City – certified by Bethany Christian Services
Bob and Molly became foster parents in 1987 when a young person on the bus Molly drove needed a safe place to go. Since then, they have also ran a group home and have cared for approximately 900 children and youth. Having been a young mother herself, Molly has focused on helping teen girls as well as young mothers. Bob and Molly currently have five teenage girls in foster care in their home. In addition to providing structure and focusing on education, Molly and Bob also strive to create happy experiences – such as going to Disney World and Elitch Gardens – with the young people in their home, many of whom keep in touch and return to visit.
Charles Howes and Sean Neil-Barron from Fort Collins – certified by Larimer County Department of Human Services
Charles and Sean were married in 2018 and became foster parents and first-time parents two and half years ago. For the last two years, they have been caring for the same young person and have found creative ways to use play to parent him in a trauma-informed way. During this time, they have seen the young person in their care grow both physically and emotionally and have developed a strong bond. Charles and Sean are grateful for the team of professionals and friends who support them and the young person in their care. Charles and Sean also like to travel with the young person in their care and create opportunities for him to have new experiences.
Jamie Kopinski from Colorado Springs – certified by Kids Crossing
Jamie is a single parent who has been caring for teens in foster care for five years. She currently has six teenagers in her home who range in age from 15 to 19 including a sibling group of three who are in foster care. Jamie connects with the young people in her home by trying to understand their behaviors in a trauma-informed way and being a strong advocate for their physical and mental health. She also ensures the young people in her home create positive memories such as planning a taco-themed prom and a quinceanera at home during the pandemic.
Ashley and Mark Spontarelli from Pueblo – certified by Pueblo County Department of Human Services
Ashley and Mark bece foster parents five years ago. Since then, they have supported biological families and sibling groups in foster care. Ashley and Mark have one biological son and have adopted three children, including two brothers. They currently provide foster care to a sibling group of three. With seven children in their home ranging in age from one to 19, the family stays busy and enjoys spending time outside, being active, and encouraging the children to use their imaginations. They take advantage of all the services available to them in their community and also travel to appointments outside of their community in order to support the children and youth in their care.
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications
Colorado Department of Human Services
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SOURCE Colorado Department of Human Services