Foster Parents Honored at 7th Annnual Outback Luncheon

About 40 foster parents were celebrated and honored at the Outback Steakhouse, located at 10060 Lee Highway in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 5, 2012. Nine families were recognized for their special efforts as foster parents. They were recognized for having good working relationships with birth family and relatives, good communication with the Department of Family Services, assisting with transportation, addressing the specific needs of the child in their home, etc. A very special part of this recognition was hearing from the social workers who nominated each of these parents for recognition. We are so blessed here in Fairfax County with so many foster parents and social workers who go to such extraordinary lengths to give these children what they need during this difficult time in their lives. Hearing their stories and celebrating with these parents is truly an honor. We also received praise and encouragement from Stephanie Pegues, Keith Wong, Foster Care and Adoption Program Manager, and Deb Forkas, Children, Youth & Families Division Director. Then, to top it off; foster parents and social workers alike, were inspired and challenged by our speaker, Ms Ivy Marie Ellis; a former foster parent with Fairfax County, who along with her husband, fostered 25 children. We were also blessed to hear from her adult son and the first child that was placed in Ms Ellis's home over 22 years ago. She is now a FCPS teacher, working on her master's degree, and although she was returned home to her biological family, she still maintains a close relationship with Ms Ellis, as do many of her former foster children. Ms. Ellis spoke of providing love and respect to the children and their families and she challenged us to never give up on the children in your home, especially teens. Ms Ellis has written a book about her experiences titled, A Temporary Home. If you would like to gain more insight from her experiences, her book is available from bookstores or on-line.

The Department of Family Services wishes to extend a special thank you on behalf of the foster parents of Fairfax County to Mr. Tim Burrows and his staff. Tim is the Manager of the Outback Steakhouse on Lee Highway. For the past 7 years, he has graciously opened the restaurant to host this private event. Tim actually cooked the food and his staff volunteered their time to serve lunch to foster parents and their guests. Of course, no luncheon would be complete without a delicious piece of chocolate cake, a lot of photographs, and door prizes. Many thanks also go to Emma Marshall and Rosa Suau for their efforts within our community to raise awareness and to all "their" local merchants who provided such wonderful door prizes. If you missed this year's foster parent appreciation luncheon, perhaps you can join us for the Foster Family Fun Fair on Saturday August 11, 2012, at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, Virginia.

Randy Smith,
Fairfax County foster Care and Adoption Association

thank you cake
whole group in front of outback
Deb Forkas

Debra Forkas, Fairfax County
Department of Family Services,
Children, Youth and Families Division Director


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