May was National Foster Care Awareness Month and our foster care programs celebrated their families with events across the state. Among the celebrations, we are very pleased to announce that Lin LeClair-Turner and Dan Turner and Phillip and Theresa Michelle McNeal, two of our very own Arizona’s Children Association foster families, tied for the “Keith Smith Foster Parent of the Year Award” in Pima County. This award is given by the Child Abuse Prevention Awards (CAP) to honor those who have made a difference in the continued fight against child abuse.
Lin, Dan, Michelle and Phillip were honored at the Tucson Juvenile Court as a part of the 2011 March for Children activities. This distinctive award is given “to an outstanding foster parent(s) who has made an impact in the lives of children and youth in foster care.”
Lin and Dan have been foster parents since 2005 and have made incredible contributions to children over the past six years. They have taken in 26 children, most of whom have significant developmental delays and/or medical needs. Lin and Dan note that their goal has always been that no foster children will leave their home until placed in a permanent home. Lin and Dan have achieved this goal time and time again. Their AzCA licensing worker described them as “persistent and loving advocates for children between the ages of zero and five. They have a true understanding of the importance of healthy bonding and attachment for children within this age range.”
Although it is hard to believe that they would have time, the Turners are also long term, active members of the Foster Care Review Board and the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents where Dan also serves as Board Member.
Phillip and Michelle McNeal have been foster parents since 2006. Their AzCA licensing worker describes them as “a foster family who goes above and beyond in providing the children in their care with love, acceptance, and a sense of family.” Michelle and Phillip care for children of all ages, including youth with emotional or behavioral issues that are difficult for other families to handle. They never seem to refuse a placement, even if they are only given short notice.
Phillip and Michelle have cared for more than 40 children since they began. They have dealt with mental illness, mental retardation, aggression, oppositional behaviors, threats of violence, learning disabilities, drug use, and much more, yet they are able to remain positive and act as mentors to other foster families by speaking at trainings intended to recruit more foster parents to provide care.
Foster families are needed across the state. We will provide the training, resources and support your need to change a child’s life. To learn more about AzCA’s foster care program and find out how you can get involved, visit www.arizonaschildren.org and click on ‘Permanency.’