Five Colorado families recognized in celebration of National Foster Care Month
May 6, 2021
DENVER (May 10, 2021) — In celebration of May being National Foster Care Month and to encourage more Coloradans to become foster parents, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) recognized five exceptional foster families at a virtual celebration on Saturday. Throughout the COVID-19 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 foster care community has always been dedicated to the safety and well-being of Colorado’s kids," said Michelle Barnes, Executive Director of CDHS. “This past year everyone has stepped up to provide stability for young people during this uncertain time. I appreciate all that foster parents and caseworkers are doing because one caring adult can make all the difference.”
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 — those adults who have an established, trusted relationship with the child — to step in. If no is kin available, a foster family is there to provide safety and care. Today in Colorado, there are 4,035 children and youth living with one of Colorado’s 2,443 certified kinship and foster families.
“The five families we are recognizing are examples of ordinary Coloradans doing something extraordinary to strengthen families and their community. Their support for reunification and commitment to caring for older youth is remarkable,” said Barnes. “I hope they inspire others to consider what they can do right now to make a difference for kids and families.”
Every community in Colorado needs more foster families as the state plans to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act. Family First is a federal law that, among several other provisions, seeks to ensure children and youth who can not live safely at home are living with a kinship or foster family rather than a congregate care setting. Many of the families CDHS is recognizing 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.
The five families recognized by the State of Colorado for National Foster Care Month are:
Rita B. and Sharita R., Commerce City
Rita and Sharita, both social workers, became foster parents four years ago with the goal to adopt. They have a six-year-old son who they adopted and a two-year-old who is in foster care. Rita and Sharita work together to solve problems and are strong advocates for making sure all the children in their home receive the services they need to grow and thrive. They also remain close with their son’s biological siblings and the families of children they have cared for through foster care. Meet Rita and Sharita.
Paul and Tosha Donaldson, Aurora
As foster parents, Paul and Tosha Donaldson have parented older youth and siblings for more than 12 years. Paul’s parents were foster parents when he was growing up and after having biological children, Tosha and Paul decided they wanted to open their home to youth in foster care. Tosha and Paul are advocates for the needs of all of the children in their home, and they encourage and support young people by ensuring they receive much-need services and participate in extracurricular activities. The couple and their biological children also maintain long-lasting connections with youth who have emancipated, been adopted or reunited with family. Meet Paul and Tosha.
Amanda and Scott Nix, Milliken
Amanda and Scott Nix currently have six boys ages 12 to 17 living in their home in Milliken. They welcome youth in foster care into their family and parent them alongside their two biological sons, who still live at home. “We don’t think of ourselves as a foster family, we are just a family,” said Amanda. The family enjoys fishing, camping, bowling and attending church together. They enjoy giving back to the local community and making birthday celebrations special for all of the youth in their home. Meet Amanda and Scott.
Manuel Padilla, Arvada
In August 2018, Manuel Padilla went from living alone to raising his nine nieces and nephews for nearly a year. Since then, many of the siblings have gone to live with other family members, but Manuel plans to adopt two of his nieces. His experience as a kinship parent inspired Manuel to become a foster parent. He has a passion for working with older youth and LGBTQ+ youth. Manuel can often relate to the experiences of youth in his home because he was in foster care from age three until he emancipated and because he has experienced rejection because of his sexual orientation. Meet Manuel.
Deborah and Lester Yoke, Pagosa Springs
When Deborah and Lester Yoke became foster parents in 2006 they knew their 60-acre property nestled along the Navajo River would be the perfect place for children. Currently, six children and youth in foster care and a former foster youth, all of whom are members of the Navajo Nation, live with the Yokes. Deborah and Lester are not Native American, so they learn from the children and youth in their care and also ensure that the young people have Native American mentors to learn from. The family and their agency use the reclaiming model, which is rooted in the Circle of Courage concept from Native American cultures, that encourages raising children by building on four key strengths: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. Meet Deborah and Lester.
The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. For information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit CO4Kids.org.