Foster parents from 10 jurisdictions across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia were honored today by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors as the region’s 2017 Foster Parents of the Year.
COG partners with local and state child welfare agencies around the region to recognize these outstanding foster parents, or now commonly referred to in the field as resource parents.
“Foster parents open their homes and hearts to children for weeks, months, or even years,” said COG Board Chair Kenyan McDuffie. “We recognize the Foster Parents of the Year for their hard work and dedication, which not only makes a difference in the lives of the children, but also in the community.”
The 2017 Foster Parents of the Year are listed below with a summary from their award nominations. Videos and photos of each family can be found here: www.facebook.com/kidsneedfamilies/
Phyllis McKeiver, District of Columbia Foster Parent of the Year
Phyllis McKeiver has been a licensed resource parent for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency for 17 years. McKeiver has two biological adult children and five grandchildren, and has provided care for more than 200 children in the foster care system. She serves as the lead parent in D.C.’s Mockingbird Family Model, where she provides support and respite services for more than 15 families. In addition to serving children in the D.C. foster care system, McKeiver makes blankets and pillows for sick children in hospitals throughout the District.
John and Cathy Mendoza, Charles County Foster Parents of the Year
John and Kathy Mendoza have one biological child and one adopted child. Recently, they began taking care of an infant with extensive special needs. The Mendozas set a strong example of the relationship between foster parents and birth parents. The Mendozas have remained dedicated to children who have left their care – maintaining relationships with youth through adulthood. They continue to serve as a resource for the agency, specifically with hard-to-place youth.
Shannon Hicks; Lauren and Richard Troutoun; and Melissa and Charles Roberts, Frederick County Foster Parents of the Year
In 2015, Frederick County Department of Social Services became involved with a family of five siblings. Given the needs of each child, the agency was unable to place them together in the same foster home. Three resource families made the commitment to not only care for and nurture the children, but also to forge a connection with the other children and their resource families. Although each family entered the program as strangers, the Hicks, Trouton, and Roberts families have gone above and beyond to work together to keep the children connected.
Jessica and Timothy Richmond, Montgomery County Foster Parents of the Year
Jessica and Timothy Richmond have been licensed resource parents for Montgomery County since 2008. The Richmonds adopted their twins in 2009 and are currently in the process of adopting a second sibling group. The Richmonds have maintained an open adoption with the biological parents and families of their twins. They have opened their hearts and homes to challenging placements and have been dedicated to advocating on behalf of and supporting the children in their care.
Lani Pinkney, Prince George’s County Foster Parent of the Year
Lani Pinkney has been a licensed resource parent in Prince George’s County since 2011. In addition to her two biological children, she has parented six children through the foster care system. Two years ago, she was granted guardianship of one of the children who entered her home from the foster care system. Pinkney has worked diligently with the teens in her care to ensure that they receive all the services that they need and that they are prepared for the next steps in life.
Cliff and Connie Mauck, City of Alexandria Foster Parents of the Year
Cliff and Connie Mauck were approached by the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services to be a potential placement for a sibling group who came into foster care. Cliff Mauck was the children’s youth leader and had known the children through youth group activities. The Maucks decided to pursue the placement and have since obtained full legal custody of the children. They continue to work diligently to meet the needs of each child and work closely with the birth mother for visitation and communication regarding the children’s well-being.
Allen and Twila Mack, Arlington County Foster Parents of the Year
Allen and Twila Mack became foster parents in 2014, after raising three sons. They recognized the need in the community and initially came forward to foster a specific child. The Macks focused their initial efforts and support towards reunification for that child, but when the child re-entered foster care, they welcomed him back to their home as his adoptive parents. The Macks decided to continue as foster parents to other children, and they have subsequently adopted another young boy whom they initially fostered. The Macks are both retired, and continue to serve as foster parents, providing respite for youth of all ages and are active members of the child welfare team.
David and Deniece Mayberry, Fairfax County Foster Parents of the Year
David and Deniece Mayberry have been foster parents with Fairfax County for six years. They have had multiple placements, and seem to have a special ability to work with teenagers. They have taken family vacations including extended family and children formerly placed with them, which highlights their commitment to make lifelong connections for the children in their care. The Mayberrys are Ambassadors for the County's Foster Care and Adoption Program. They speak to people in the community about the program, and attend monthly orientation meetings to share their experiences with prospective families.
Robert and Marlayna Diaz, Loudoun County Foster Parents of the Year
Robert and Marlayna Diaz have recently opened their home to two teenage girls over Christmas to provide them an opportunity to see each other over the holiday. The Diaz family has adopted one child and are in the process of adopting two more Loudoun County children. Currently, they have seven children in the home, and they are willing to foster more. They have worked well with birth families to support the relationship for the children. As adoptees themselves, Robert and Marlayna have a strong commitment to providing a loving, safe, and stable home for the children.
Evan and Bethany Raulerson, Prince William County Foster Parents of the Year
Bethany and Evan Raulerson relocated to Prince William County along with their three biological children in 2013. In 2015, they became approved foster parents and accepted their first placement. The child has significant special needs, but has thrived both academically and medically in the care of the Raulerson family. They are now in process of adopting this child and are thrilled that she will be a permanent addition to their family. Most recently, the Raulersons agreed to care for two additional children – twins born substance-exposed and had to be in neonatal intensive care. Due to the Raulersons' commitment and advocacy, the children have flourished.