DENVER, May 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- First Lady of Colorado Robin Hickenlooper and Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), today recognized five families from across Colorado for their dedication to Colorado's kids in foster care as part of National Foster Care Month. Nearly 100 people attended the luncheon celebration at the Governor's Mansion.
"This is one of my favorite days of the year," Bicha said. "We often hear of the seemingly heroic experiences of foster parents and we wonder: 'Could I do that?' The truth is, the five families we recognize today are ordinary Coloradans who have answered the call and stepped up to care for children and youth who need a safe and loving place to live while their parents receive support and learn the skills they need to build a stable home."
On an average day in Colorado, five children enter foster care because their parents need time to learn new skills to become the parents their children need them to be. Most young people are able to live with a relative or another adult with whom they have a close relationship, such as a teacher or neighbor. Unfortunately, not all children have a support network to lean on in crisis, and they enter foster care.
Today, there are 2,058 Colorado children and youth in foster care and 824 in a group home or residential treatment facility getting the behavioral support that they need to stabilize from the trauma that they have endured. However, many of those 824 are ready to live with a family in foster care, but there is no foster family ready to receive them into their home. With only 1,915 certified foster homes, Colorado has a shortage of foster families. There is an especially high demand for foster families who are willing to care for children with special needs, sibling groups and older youth.
"Children are Colorado's most precious resource, and we are all responsible for their well-being," said First Lady Robin Hickenlooper. "Our communities are stronger when children are safe, happy and loved. We all have the ability to change a child's life, and these five wonderful foster families are inspirations to all of us to do more for children in our communities. I am so proud to be here today to thank some of Colorado's finest parents for embracing children and teens. I hope their stories inspire others to become foster parents."
The families honored included:
- Roseanna and Andrew Elizondo from Aurora
- Hope and Kyle Forti from Colorado Springs
- Ventura and Juan Carlos Holguin from Pueblo West
- Anna and Joseph Lucero from Broomfield
- Margie and Rob Williams from Centennial
Elizondo Family – Aurora
Roseanna and Andrew Elizondo became foster parents in 2013 when they decided to adopt a child through the foster care system, and they continue to foster today. In fall 2016, the Elizondos briefly cared for a five-week-old infant. Just one week after their infant foster son reunited with his mom, Andrew and Roseanna got an unusual call. The mom and her baby needed a new place to live. Without any local family able to take them in, the Elizondos were the young mom's only option. Roseanna admits that they had never done something like this before – providing housing for a former foster child and his mom – but they said yes. For three months, the Elizondos provided this young mom and her son with a home, stability, safety, food and transportation. Now that the mom has moved to California to live with family, the Elizondos stay in touch on Facebook and texts, and know that they didn't just care for a child – they provided a haven for a family.
Forti Family – Colorado Springs
The Forti family had just welcomed their first son when they decided to become foster parents to provide a safe home for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. As CASAs (court appointed special advocates), Hope and Kyle were familiar with the child welfare system. They are now foster parents for a child they met through CASA of the Pikes Peak Region. Finding balance is important to Hope and Kyle, so they routinely schedule breaks and find time for themselves. They want others who are thinking about foster care to know that being a foster parent isn't that different from being a biological parent. You can still be you and do the things you enjoy when you're a foster parent.
Holguin Family – Pueblo West
Ventura and Juan Carlos Holguin became foster parents four years ago when they moved to Colorado from Arizona. Ventura says that caring for children in foster care is not difficult, because when children come into her home, they become family. The Holguins' sons have become brothers to the children in foster care who live with them, and the boys help their parents a great deal. Ventura says that even though Spanish is her first language, she is easily able to work with the staff at Pueblo County child welfare and complete all of the requirements to be a foster parent. She and Juan Carlos want to inspire other Spanish speakers to become foster parents as well.
Lucero Family – Broomfield
Anna Lucero and her adult son Joseph are a part of Colorado's new Treatment Foster Care program. Treatment Foster Care parents are highly trained to provide more intensive care and treatment for young people who have complex needs. The Luceros work closely with the young people they care for to overcome past traumatic experiences and learn independent living skills. Like all Treatment Foster Care parents, the Luceros have a professional team that provides them with additional resources, training and 24/7 support services. In addition to skill building and therapeutic treatment, the Luceros emphasize that they provide a caring home for young people who need a family connection. In fact, Anna and Joseph maintain that connection even after young people leave their home.
Williams Family – Centennial
Thirteen years ago, Margie and Rob Williams adopted three siblings who were on the Colorado Heart Gallery, a traveling display and online photo gallery at coheartgallery.org that includes portraits and videos of children and teens waiting to be adopted. Once their children were grown and out of the house, the Williams decided to become recertified as foster parents. They have chosen primarily to care for siblings, because they know how important it is to keep siblings together when they are in foster care. Margie and Rob emphasize family, and you can see that in the family photos that cover the walls in their Centennial home. For them, the children in foster care who have lived with them are part of their family forever. The couple credit their support network, strong faith and strong marriage to their success as foster parents.
To learn more and watch a short video about each family visit CO4Kids.org.
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SOURCE Colorado Department of Human Services