I served for 9 years on the Board of Directors of the Utah Foster Care Foundation, 6 of those as Board Chair. I serve on a number of other non-profit boards in the community, and I was fond of telling my fellow UFCF board members that the Foundation was my favorite. Why? Because, as a social worker with child welfare experience, I was particularly drawn to the organization’s mission of serving and keeping safe Utah’s abused and neglected children. Because of the Foundation staff’s commitment and dedication to the organization’s mission, which served as a model for the board to emulate. Because of the Foundation leadership’s knowledge, skill, and expertise, which made my job as Board Chair all the easier. I saw the Foundation leadership and staff as extended family, and never missed an opportunity to attend the all-staff meetings which brought together UFCF staff from across the state several times a year. There was always plenty of joy and laughter—and hugs—at those meetings. I suppose we were modeling what Utah’s foster families experience on a daily basis as they provide love and safety to Utah’s vulnerable children. I send a virtual hug out to all of those families. Thank you for all you do!
I am honored to share my experiences with the Utah Foster Care Foundation. My husband and I began our journey into foster care over 5 years ago. Our first experience with UFCF was attending our pre-service training to become foster parents. We attended 32 hours of classes where we learned about child welfare teams, Utah Licensing rules, abuse & neglect, the impact of substance abuse on development, grief, attachment and trauma, permanency & adoption, and family cultures. The vast array of topics covered helped prepare us for our experiences with fostering children. Our trainers were well educated, open, and honest about what we would experience. It was such a powerful experience that we felt we because better parents for just having attended.
Once we were licensed foster parents we were able to participate in continuing education classes. Each month we are afforded the opportunity to attend a myriad of classes on an array of subjects. Because of the diversity of classes there always seemed to be a class designed to cover the challenges we were facing as foster parents.
The Utah Foster Care Foundation's Wishing Well helps normalize the experience for children in care. Our family was excited for an upcoming trip to Florida with my husband's work. About 3 weeks before our trip we were placed with a foster child. We did not want to leave him behind, but could also not afford to purchase is airline ticket and a ticket to Disney world, and the additional hotel fees, etc. It was then we were made aware of the Wishing Well funds provided through the Utah Foster Care Foundation. Unfortunately, reimbursement rates given to foster parents for care cover living expenses but not much more. Which means when it comes to extracurricular activities we, the foster parents, often end up covering the cost ourselves. We were able to apply for help purchasing a plane ticket so that our foster son could experience a plane flight and a family vacation for the first time in his life. He got to go to Disney World, Gator land, Sea world, and the beach with us. During the flight, he was even able to meet the pilot and go in the cockpit. It was priceless! It was an amazing experience to be able to include him in our plans. Our family was also able to attend the yearly Foster Family Camp held at Aspen Grove. This event is held each fall in the beautiful mountains above Sundance. We had just adopted an 11 year old that has been in foster care for over 6 years. He had never been on a family vacation. He had not belonged to a family for a very long time. We were able to attend activities and trainings and be with other families like ours. There were several kids his age. He looked at me at one point during our stay with tears in his eyes and said "Mom, I belong here. These kids are just like me. They get it." How powerful that statement is. This camp made him feel like he belonged; to be with others that understood his struggles and challenges, and to be truly carefree. The Utah Foster Care Foundation provides several appreciation events throughout the year, giving our kids the opportunity to be just kids, not defined as "FOSTER" kids. These activities give them the opportunity to belong.
I have also had the opportunity to participate in the Annual Chalk Art festival at the Gateway. This event is held father’s day weekend and is meant to raise awareness about the Utah Foster Care Foundation and the need for foster families. Artist's color the streets with amazing art depicting a theme. We recently adopted a sibling group of three sisters through foster care. The oldest was able to participate as a student artist this last year. An experience she still talks about. This year’s theme was super heroes. She chose to draw wonder woman. She wrote around the side of her drawing "Be the change you want to see and become a foster parent. Thank you to the many Wonder Women in my life." That is such a powerful message coming from a 14 year old.
I have never seen an organization so passionate about their work. Every member of the Utah Foster Care Foundation pitches in to make this event a success. They are amazingly organized and work cohesively as a team. I have been blessed in so many ways by the support this organization has shown to my family by their generous work, kindness, and love for children. I fully encourage your support of Utah Foster Care, their mission, and their programs.
In my experience as a donor with Utah Foster Care I feel like my investment is being used for such a great purpose. The kids that I support are getting to go to camp with other kids in foster care. They are hardly ever in the mountains enjoying the beauty of nature and with my gift they are there and getting to spend time with their family having fun, and staying safe.
As a young newlywed and student at Brigham Young University I had a wonderful experience with foster care. My wife and I applied to be foster parents. Both of us felt that we could make a difference in the lives of children in need. It wasn’t long after that we became involved with four young women between the ages of 13 and 17 who had been in trouble. They had experienced things in their young lives that most that age should not have. They needed a home. Even though both of us were young we were quickly faced with issues that were far beyond our maturity and experience. I was grateful at the time for the support that we received from the foster care professionals involved in that placement.
Many years have passed since those young women were in our home and I now serve on the Board of Directors for the Utah Foster Care Foundation. What you should know about this organization is that they are tirelessly committed to the betterment of young people who find themselves in difficult circumstances. They are known for their ability to identify, train and support foster parents in making a difference in the life of a young person. The generous donated funds they receive are carefully monitored and most of the funds are spent in directly meeting the needs of the children. I would encourage you to get to know this organization and to support them in any way you can, because they make a difference – and don’t we all want to make a difference.
My first exposure to foster care was as a big brother. In 1969 my mother was working for the military family services agency. As part of that role she was exposed to multiple foster care cases. One day she came home and brought up the idea to our family of being foster parents to a little girl. My brother and I were very excited due to the fact that we were the only two children and we wanted a sister.
Kathy came and lived at our home for several months and made us big brothers. I can remember being proud to have a younger sister. I knew she had come from a very troubled home environment. I knew that she had many struggles but I was grateful that we could open our home to her so that she could experience something different. I think my dad might have been hesitant at first but he agreed and went along with the experience.
After several months she was reunited with her family. We were saddened. My brother and I were losing a sister and my parents were losing a daughter. That’s when I realized how important the experience was to my father. He genuinely seemed to be disheartened because of her departure. My mom told him that it was better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all.
Now many years later I wish I knew what happened to Kathy. How did he life turn out? Was she happy? Where is she today? I’m grateful for organizations like the Utah Foster Care Foundation. It works tirelessly to identify and to train foster families so that they can provide assistance to young girls like Kathy. Foster care can be a wonderful blessing in the life of a young person who needs an opportunity. I hope Kathy’s brief experience with us was a blessing to her. I know we all loved her very much.
As an adult I have become associated with the Utah Foster Care Foundation. I admire their commitment and devotion to helping children in need. They need your support and involvement. The generous donated funds are managed wisely and almost exclusively spent in meeting the needs of the children. Please consider what you can do to help the Utah Foster Care Foundation make a difference in the life of young people.
Review from Guidestar