May is Foster Parent Month and the Wyandot County Department of Job and Family Services honored the county’s eight foster families during the annual foster care recognition program Friday at East of Chicago Pizza Company in Upper Sandusky.
“I think we all understand how resilient children are, but I think it’s important to recognize that no one child could make it without the help of a foster parent or the birth parent,” Wyandot County JFS Director W. Thomas Bennett said to the foster parents. “There have to be adults in children’s lives and we are very grateful. They need mentors and support and you’re the ones that provide it and the nicest thing is you provide it in your home, which is quite an undertaking. Our agency is grateful to you for your continued support and for the consistency you show the kids.”
Nate and Jill Fenstermaker, of Upper Sandusky, were chosen as Foster Parents of the Year. The Fenstermakers have been licensed foster parents for five years. They have one biological child and one adopted child.
“(Being a foster parent) has plenty of its own rewards with just getting to be with the kids all the time,” Nate Fenstermaker said. “We had a toddler for three weeks and just bonding with him and seeing him grow in three weeks time, nothing can top that.”
“Making a difference in their lives too and helping them out is also rewarding,” Jill Fenstermaker added.
Wyandot County Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Miller delivered the keynote speech.
“The dictionary defines the word foster as to promote the growth or development of, to encourage, to bring up, to raise and to care for or cherish,” Miller said. “I am pleased to confirm that the dictionary got it right and accurately describes what you, our foster families, do for the children in you care.”
According to Miller, Wyandot County currently has six children living with foster families. The children range in age from 2 months to 12 years. There are eight licensed foster families — five in Wyandot County and one each in Marion, Seneca and Wood counties.
“As foster families, you are important to the children you care for, you are valued by the people you work with and you will be remembered for your love and your commitment forever,” Miller told the honorees. “I am privileged to say, ‘Thank you,’ on behalf of the department, my office, the court and especially the children.”
For more information about becoming a foster parent, contact licensing specialist Becky Greene at 419-294-4977.
By CHANDA NEELY