CDHS recognizes five Colorado foster families for National Foster Care Month

May 5, 2020 (DENVER) — In celebration of National Foster Care Month and to encourage more Coloradans to become foster parents, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is recognizing five exceptional foster families. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, county departments of human/social services and child placement agencies continue recruiting and training new foster families.

“Foster families, like so many families these days, are being called upon to do even more now as schools, sports teams and after-school programs close,” said Michelle Barnes, executive director of CDHS. “The foster community is adapting its support networks and working diligently to make resources and supports available online. I appreciate all that foster parents are doing, because one caring adult can make all the difference.”

When parents need additional support to provide safety for their kids, county human 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 — and then a foster family to provide safety. Today in Colorado, there are 4,502 children and youth growing up with one of Colorado’s 2,372 certified foster or kinship families. Since March 26, when Colorado’s stay-at-home order began, 252 children and youth have moved from their home temporarily so their parents have time to address safety concerns. Counties, CPAs, nonprofit organizations and CDHS are offering training and support to kin and foster families stepping up to care for Colorado’s kids. 

“The five families we are recognizing are examples of ordinary Coloradans doing something extraordinary to strengthen families and their community. Especially during these challenging times, their commitment to kids and families is remarkable,” said Barnes. “I hope they inspire others to consider what they can do right now to make a difference for kids. I look forward to welcoming these families at a special recognition event when it is safe to gather.” 

The five families recognized by the State of Colorado for National Foster Care Month are:

Courtney Durow and David Klotz, Denver
Courtney and David first became foster parents in order to adopt two siblings. They continue to foster because they are committed to supporting biological families and reunification. Courtney and David have a special relationship with the mother of a little girl they fostered as an infant. Courtney and David helped the mother get the support she needed to regain custody of her daughter and they still see the little girl, who calls them Dada and Papa. Although COVID-19 has created unique challenges for all foster families, Courtney and David are continuing to support reunification with the sibling group they are currently fostering by hosting Zoom visits with their parent several hours a week. Courtney has been staying at home with the children while David, who is an essential employee, works for a hospital.
 
Keyonia Edwards, Aurora
Before becoming a foster parent, Keyonia Edwards, who is called “Miss K” by the kids in her care, had several careers working with children, first as a bus driver and then as a staff member in group homes. Miss K has been instrumental in helping the children and youth she has cared for transition home to their biological families while continuing to be a resource for the family. She also keeps in touch with the families with whom she has worked and serves as a resource for new foster parents. Keyonia works for the Cherry Creek School District. With schools closed because of COVID-19, she has been staying home helping the kids adapt to online learning and has purchased additional technology to better meet their needs.
 
Mark and Chastity Gomez, Centennial 
Mark, Chastity and their five children have created lasting relationships with many of the 16 children and youth they have cared for through foster care. In fact, the family took a vacation to Tennessee last year to visit a sibling group who had reunified with their biological family. Mark and Chastity are also mentors in the local foster care community, participating in foster care panels, information nights and foster parent training.  
 
Sistina Gray, Clifton
Sistina, who goes by Tina, is the glue that has held her family together. When Tina was 23, her four siblings were placed in her care. Now 26 and living with her partner, Jeremiah, and her two young biological children, Tina has placed her own education and career goals on hold in order to care for her siblings whom she is in the process of adopting. Having been in foster care herself, Tina wanted to keep her family together and has been able to provide a safe, loving and stable home where their family’s Navajo heritage is celebrated.   
 
Lynda and Andres Sanchez, Clifton
Lynda and Andres Sanchez have created a safe, structured and nurturing environment for everyone in their big household, which includes their biological children, Andres’ mother, and children and youth in foster care. Lynda and Andres excel at working with youth by building trust through honest and direct communication, and have gone above and beyond to support reunification. Fortunately, the family has a lot of space at their home and is able to spend time enjoying the outdoors while being home together during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
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. 

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble
Deputy Director of Communications
madlynn.ruble@state.co.us
303.866.3411