Washington County foster care providers who reached milestone years of service to the county were recognized May 23 at the Lake Elmo Event Center, including a Cottage Grove couple honored for 35 years of service and an Afton couple honored for 30 years service.
The county has 46 adult family providers who provide emergency, respite, and on-going placements to vulnerable adults. There are 56 child foster care providers in Washington County. There were 200 youth placements in the county in 2012, with 145 in family foster care, said Commissioner Lisa Weik at the recognition event. Weik noted the different forms of foster care in the county, adding that while the event honors the county’s foster care providers, there are many aspects to foster care. They include:
- Emergency child protection issues, while relative or kinship options are pursued by the Child Protection Worker or Law Enforcement Officer, many times resulting in contacting foster parents during the day or at night asking if they might drop everything and help out.
- Youth coming from the court system due to issues such as severe truancy, delinquent behavior or a difficult family situation.
- Youth suffering mental health or developmental disability issues whose parents need someone else to shepherd their children either for respite or a placement.
- Sibling groups or individual children who start in an emergency foster placement and remain there, or move to a permanent foster family where they are adopted.
Foster care providers also care for vulnerable adults who may have mental health challenges, are homeless, have physical or developmental disabilities or are elderly.
Foster care providers in the county have been care providers from one to 46 years. Foster care providers were recognized at last month’s event for their progressive years of service.
Karen and Scott Elliot of Cottage Grove were honored for 35 years of non-kin child foster care. The couple’s background working in residential treatment has served them well over the years. They have three almost-grown children who grew up sharing their home and parents with foster children.
The Elliots have shared the foster care through the years. When Scott Elliot worked full time teaching, Karen was the primary caregiver and communicator with case workers. More recently, Scott retired and those roles have flipped, with Karen working outside the home and Scott taking the lead in fostering.
One of the social workers who work with the Elliots said, “Scott and Karen are extremely dedicated and professional. They have successfully worked with very complex and difficult children and family situations over the years and they have never backed down from a challenge. It is always a pleasure to work with Scott and Karen.”
Mary Jo and Ray Dick from Afton were honored for 30 years of foster care. They started doing foster care in Newport in 1978, where their home was always full of friends of their children.
The decision was made that the family would foster only boys. Initially, the family took referrals from both the county’s Social Services and Corrections departments, but eventually the couple focused on working with teenage males on probation.
Terry Thomas, division manager from Washington County Community Corrections, commented on Mary Jo and Ray Dick’s work with foster children.
“Over the years, Mary Jo has knowingly accepted and successfully worked with some of the toughest kids on probation in Washington County,” Thomas said. “Mary Jo provides consistency, structure and accountability. It says something when teens ask their probation officer to enter a correctional facility rather than deal with grounding from Mary Jo. It isn’t necessarily the consequence which was feared, even though gardening for two hours wasn’t pleasant for most teens. It was the fact that they were disappointing her which mattered most.”
Those recognized for 20 years of foster care were:
- Karla Keller, Oak Park Heights, who does adult foster care for those with developmental disabilities; and
- Barb and Mike Miller, Oakdale, who provide adult foster care for adults with disabilities.
Ten-year honorees were:
- Roger Eliasen, Woodbury, who provides care for individuals with mental health issues;
- Cathy and Ernie Gillman, Cottage Grove, who have child foster placements, and do respite care for children and young adults ages 1 to 21;
- Carol and Robert LeMere, Forest Lake, who do adult foster care for those with developmental disabilities;
- Dawn and Richard Williams, Cottage Grove, non-kin child foster care providers who take emergency and non-emergency placements.
Those recognized for five years of foster care were:
- Edilene Friest, Cottage Grove, who provides care for physically disabled and elderly individuals;
- Karly and Pete LePage, Woodbury, who care for one adult who is developmentally disabled;
- Marion and Stephan Potyondy, Woodbury, who provide respite care for a child with autism;
- Amy and Richard Reeves, Cottage Grove, who provide foster care for children; and
- Sohair Youssef and Mounir Marzouk, Oakdale, who provide adult foster care.
Those who were licensed during the past year were:
- Jessica and Justin Bell, from Woodbury who do non-kin fostering;
- Vanessa and Daniel Bourgoin, from Mahtomedi who do kinship care;
- Charlene Dixon, a kinship provider from Oakdale;
- Kelly Erickson and Michael Moss, child non-kin providers from Forest Lake;
- Joy and Matt Gilson, from Woodbury who do kinship foster care;
- Roberta and Steven Hill, from Woodbury who do kinship foster care;
- Pamela Johnson, an adult family provider from Hugo;
- David Leonard and Donna Johnson, from Stillwater who do kinship care;
- Carlene Pederson, an adult family provider from Forest Lake;
- Jennifer and Greg Sabin, a child kinship provider from Cottage Grove;
- Delores and James Schlagel, from Stillwater who do kinship care;
- Jennifer and Jason Skalicky, child non-kin providers from Forest Lake; and
- Teresa Warolin, child non-kin provider from Oakdale.
Foster care providers are always needed in the county. Anyone interested can call 651-430-6455 for more information.