Being a foster parent is easily one of the most challenging and difficult, yet exhilarating and rewarding, yet bittersweet roles on the planet. By definition foster means to promote the growth or development of, to encourage; to bring up, to raise, to care for or to cherish. This year’s foster parent of the year has done not only that but so much more for our youth and families. From their licensure a handful of years ago, they have given sacrifices of their time, love and home to be a part of something bigger than themselves. From a family of 2 to a soon to be family of 10, this family has embodied every definition of fostering, family and forever in the most exciting ways. This year’s foster parent of the year award is presented to Haley and Vince Smith.
One of the best qualities of the Smith Family is their commitment to fully embracing all the challenges that comes with the day to day fostering experience. Whether its late night after hours placements to supporting a new foster parent who needs a listening ear, you can count on the Smiths to be there. You can catch the Smith family at all the CHOICES events, every school meeting, every doctor’s appointment and every sporting competition advocating, championing, encouraging and supporting. As a busy family, they always make time to do the things that count. They’ve taken family trips, made sporting competitions a fun weekend away for everyone and always make sure to make every kiddo who walks through their doors feel valued and important, regardless of how long they stay.
You cannot consider all of their placements “easy” – they definitely make it look that way. Maybe knowingly, but possibly not, the Smith family has made it their mission to ensure siblings are placed together and birth families stay as connected as they can. A special memory that will always stick out to me us when a sibling set the Smith family had for nearly a year reunified with their family. As they packed the children’s things in boxes to send with them, the Smiths wrote a detailed letter of the things they had done with the kids that worked, the services they were involved in, the routines they established and signed it with their contact information to be a support when times get hard.
Whether it’s the twin baby girls whose older brother also needed a home, the uniquely high needs kiddo who has a few extra siblings he’d benefit to have come along with him, or the preteen and teen boys whose hope and dream was to have parents they can lean on, the Smith family has exceeded expectations every single time. They are pros at taking down and putting up beds in the midnight hour, rearranging bedrooms, committing to an hour long commute one way for visits or setting up a community visit to assist a family in need, the requests are always met with an eager and honest, “yes – we’ll take care of it”.
The Smith family has a unique ability to connect with, support and empower not only youth but other families and parents. You can find their name on several new foster parent referrals and they encourage everyone to be a part of our mission. On behalf of all the CHOICES workers, across all departments, the Smith family has been an absolute privilege to work with and seeing their family continue to grow has been incredible.
Haley and Vince, your willingness to provide structure, stability and safety to our kiddos does not go unnoticed and your willingness to meet a need is unmatched. Thank you for saying yes, to fostering and making an impact, we are forever indebted for all you’ve done!