In 2019, Adams County became the first county to host a foster parent panel in Colorado, leading the way for other counties to provide similar panels. The purpose of the panel was to help foster parents better understand the court system.
The event was spearheaded by Renee Bernhard, Founder and Executive Director, FosterSource—an Adams County Community Partner—and Simone Jones, Deputy Court Executive, 17th Judicial District. Bernhard approached Adams County leadership with the idea, and Jones was instrumental in organizing and recruiting the panel members and providing her insights into the judicial system.
“When Renee approached me about providing Adams County foster parents with this resource, I was immediately on board,” says Charles “Chaz” Tedesco, Adams County Board of Commissioners. “Growing up in the foster care system, I have a deep appreciation for what these families do. It’s incredibly rewarding to give back and help new foster families navigate the system.”
Adams County is committed to continuing this program to help guide foster parents through the process. Two panels were held at the Adams County Human Services Center in Westminster, and a third panel is planned later this year. That panel will address the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
“Community enrichment is a core goal of the Board of County Commissioners,” said Board Chair Emma Pinter. “Engaging our community and stakeholders in these educational opportunities will help these families navigate the court system and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes for Adams County kids.”
Foster parent Craig Wellington attended the most recent panel in late January 2020 and found it to be a valuable resource.
“I have an amazing sense of pride in the work the professionals, panel members, and dedicated volunteers do each day to serve the most vulnerable children in our community,” says Wellington. “The leadership in Adams County—from Commissioner Tedesco to the volunteers from FosterSource—is simply not matched anywhere else in Colorado. I know our system can improve, and, with the continued dedication of those who attended the panel, it will.”
Panels like this are frequently held at the state level but, until last year, have not been conducted at the county level. They’re designed to help guide foster families through the process and provide resources, guidance, and help with rules of engagement.
Examples of the issues addressed include:
- Emotional effects on children spending time with their biological family and then returning to the foster home.
- Avenues foster parents have to provide information and feedback on what’s best for the child.
To learn more about foster care in Adams County, visit adcogov.org.