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Date Posted: 05/16/2017
Andrew and Amy Baker of Searcy Named Arkansas Foster Family of the Year
The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) celebrated foster parents Tuesday at a luncheon and named Andrew and Amy Baker of Searcy statewide Foster Family of the Year for their significant efforts to support children in foster care and their families.
“Children who come into foster care need structure, compassion, kindness and grace,” said DCFS Director Mischa Martin, “and we are grateful for the examples set by the Bakers and each of the families we recognized today. I am so thankful for families that step up to serve and love our children. We could not provide them safety and stability without our amazing foster parents.”
Martin said the Bakers were selected as statewide winners because they have embraced their role as a “reunification partner” and work closely with the biological families of the children in their care.
“We’re humbled to be chosen,” said Amy Baker. “After hearing the stories of the other foster families who serve, any of them could’ve been in our position.”
She continued, “For the DCFS employees that we’re partners with, this event is recognition for them as well. They have been a solid presence for us. They have answered our questions when we have them. They’ve been an advocate for the kids, and they’ve been an advocate for the parents. DCFS employees are rooting for the families, just as we are.”
DCFS is responsible for the safety of children and youth in the state with 5,200 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, school personnel and child advocates.
For the first time, awards were given at the state level and were announced at a luncheon in conjunction with National Foster Care Month, observed in May annually. The overall winner and one from each area were chosen by DHS/DCFS staff based on years of services to the division, willingness to take “hard to place” children, child advocacy, and reunification efforts with biological families.
Area winners including hometown and county are:
1. Cory and Shannon Stocks, Centerton, Benton
2. Ben and Lora Yother, Greenwood, Sebastian
3. Charles and Ginger Blue, Nashville, Howard
4. Terra Cobb, Texarkana, Miller
5. Steve and Ruth Haile, Conway, Faulkner
6. Shantel Moore, Sherwood, Pulaski
7. Bryan and Kassie Atwood, White Hall, Grant
8. Jesse and Laurie Romine, Salem, Fulton
9. Keith and Karen Spencer, West Memphis, Crittenden
10.Tate and Tammy Pfaffenberger, DeWitt, Arkansas
DCFS also recognized, Kim Laffoon of Searcy, who volunteers with White County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), as Partner Volunteer of the Year, and Patricia Lucas of Forrest City in St. Francis County, as DCFS Volunteer of the Year.
Local news anchor and child welfare advocate Dawn Scott emceed the luncheon, and former foster parent Christie Erwin, author of “The Middle Mom,” gave the keynote address. Erwin also is a child advocate, adoptive parent and executive director of Project Zero, which seeks to match prospective adoptive families with adoptable children.
For more information about the foster care system in Arkansas or to begin the application process to become a foster family, visit FosterArkansas.org or call 501-682-8770.
ANDREW AND AMY BAKER OF SEARCY