May 7 – Tana and Jerry Nelson – Genesee County

The stories that are told
We often hear statistics and the life stories of children who are living away from their families of origin in foster care and of those youth aging out of the foster care system. We frequently read how every community across the State of Michigan is seeking more foster parents to meet the needs of the children and youth in foster care. We, as readers, engage in the stories of hope and some feel a sense of responsibility to do something purposeful in response. Although the primary purpose of Foster Care is to provide a safe temporary out of home placement, Tana and Jerry are foster parents who have proven that their purpose is to positively impact lives.

Having a strong effect
Tana and Jerry are foster parents who answer the phone at all hours, every day of the week, and 365 days a year. They are familiar with the words “emergency placement” and know that those words mean more than just a title. Yet, they readily become available providing displaced children and youth a home, words of encouragement, and a few laughs. Tana and Jerry’s contribution to reframing how individuals experience the foster care system extends beyond the children, youth, and families of origin and reaches the social workers. The most formidable challenge facing foster care social workers is finding the best placements for displaced children and youth. Tana and Jerry eliminate this challenge. Their ability to consistently meet the standards to maintain licensure, friendly disposition when engaging with social workers, and trust in the professional relationship speaks to their innate ability to create positive change in so many lives ~ the most significant ones being the lives of the children and youth.