The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) honored 10 families – one from each of its service areas – at its annual Foster Parents of the Year banquet on Friday, and one family was also named the overall statewide winner.
The families were selected for their unwavering support and commitment to children and families in Arkansas as foster parents. During the event, which was hosted at the Governor’s Mansion, each family was profiled and honored with a letter of recognition from Governor Asa Hutchinson and a statue award. At the end of the night, Michael and Theresa Smithson of Bald Knob were announced the overall Foster Parents of the Year for 2022.
“It’s an honor,” Theresa said shortly after being announced the winning family. “I can think of so many deserving families in this room alone, so just to know that our family [was chosen], it’s humbling.”
The Smithsons say those who are considering fostering should just do it.
“You don’t have to take many kids – just one,” Michael says. “If everybody would just take one there wouldn’t be as big of a problem…finding a place for a child to be.”
“The Smithsons have graciously welcomed both siblings and teens since they opened their home three years ago. In fact, they permanently added a teen to their family through adoption, and they currently have a sibling group of not just two or three, but five children,” DCFS Director Mischa Martin says.
“The Smithsons are shining examples of partners who live out the mission of DCFS,” she adds. “We are grateful for their partnership, and the partnership of all foster parents across the state.”
The other families honored as Arkansas Foster Parents of the year for their respective areas were: Quincy and Jana Williams of Bentonville; Bradley and Elyssa Whitworth of Rudy; Katelyn Walker of Hot Springs; Clint and Tiffany Boykin of El Dorado; Matthew and Elizabeth Price of Omaha; Trish White of Little Rock; Amy and Pete Hughes of Cabot; Mike and Terry Rowland of Paragould; and Lynette and Randy Romero of Monticello.
DCFS is responsible for the safety of children in the state and has approximately 4,500 children in foster care, most of whom are placed in home settings with foster families. The state is divided into 10 service areas, and nominations for outstanding foster families were submitted from each area by family service workers, other foster parents, and child advocates.
For more information about the foster care system in Arkansas or to begin the application process to become a foster family, visit fosterarkansas.org.