The month of May proved busy for local volunteers, Department of Family and Children Services employees and more as time was taken out to celebrate Foster Parent Appreciation Month as part of a national effort to recognize those willing to give back to children in need of a home and family.
Among those this year shown appreciation for all they’ve done is Cassie Laminack.
She was chosen as this year’s DFCS Region 3 (serves- Polk, Haralson, Bartow, Paulding, Floyd, and Douglas counties) Foster Parent of the Year, chosen from among 200 families in the six county area.
Robin Forston of the Polk County DFCS office said the single foster parent and “her first placement was a sibling group of three. She developed a strong bond with the children’s birth mother and was very supportive and inclusive of the mother during the children’s seven months in care.”
Forston added that “After reunification, this mother said, “Cassie encouraged me to be a better mother and I saw her do things for my children and I knew she loved them and was not against me.” [Laminack] also makes keepsake memory books for all of her placements.”
In July 2018, Laminack adopted her son after he spent 18 months in her home.
Laminack is an active member of Haralson County’s Foster Parent Association and actively recruits new foster parents. She also established the annual “Kicks for Kids” event for Polk and Haralson foster children who need new shoes. She’s a photographer and offered free 30 minute sessions in exchange for a pair of new sneakers. In 2018, she received over 50 pairs of new shoes.
She was honored by DFCS statewide Director Tom Rawlings with 22 other families from across Georgia on May 20 at a luncheon at the Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta.
Additional special thanks went out this May to local business owners who contributed back to the community as well. Jason and Katie Graham are the owners of the Cedartown Papa John’s Pizza, and they provided a generous donation to the Polk County Foster Parent Association. They helped provide the donation after the location in Cedartown from May 5 through May 11 by collecting funds from a portion of their sales that week.
That organization also helped provide information in a May mini-conference with the help of several others.
Dwayne Yarbrough, a former Polk County foster parent of 24 plus years and current Polk County CASA (court appointed special advocate volunteer for foster children,) hosted a foster parent mini-conference for required training hours for current foster parents at One Door Polk on Main Street in Cedartown on Saturday, May 11, 2019.
Along with Yarbrough, recently appointed Tallapoosa Judicial Court Juvenile Judge Laura Wheale spoke to the foster parents about the juvenile court expectations for foster parents and answered questions of the foster parents.
CASA supervisor Lisa Dowdy took part as well and discussed the responsibility of the CASA volunteer and the partnership with foster parents. Leann Chastain, a person in long term addiction recovery, shared with foster parents how with the support of her church and community partners she maintains her sobriety and is an advocate for more parents in the community of Recovery.
The mini-conference provided foster parents with six training hours on the day. Forston wrote “the event made a big impact on those in attendance and was helpful for the foster parent participants.”