Individuals honored for improving child welfare
Casey Family Programs is pleased to announce the winners of the annual Casey Excellence for Children Awards. These awards recognize outstanding individuals who have demonstrated distinguished work, exceptional leadership and relentless dedication in improving the child welfare system. Award winners are selected from among a group of outstanding nominees within four constituent categories: birth parents, alumni of foster care, foster parents and kinship caregivers.
“Through the work that they do every day, these individuals exemplify Casey Family Programs’ goal to have every child grow up in a healthy, safe and permanent family, and within a supportive community,” said Shelia Evans-Tranumn, chair of the Board of Trustees of Casey Family Programs. “It is so important that we recognize the individuals who improve the lives of children and families in need.”
Congratulations to the winners of the Casey Excellence for Children Awards.
Birth Parent Awards
Antinette Blocker, Mecklenburg, North Carolina
Ramiro Sanchez, Phoenix, Arizona
Through his devotion to his children, partnering abilities, commitment to his own recovery, support of cultural diversity, and contributions to promoting communities of hope and prevention, he sets a positive example for others. Mr. Sanchez is currently a volunteer sponsor for other fathers going through the same process he did through drug court. Mr. Sanchez believes that helping others is a part of his responsibility to his community.
Amanda Metivier, Anchorage, Alaska
Foster Parent Award
Mark Hinson, Hampton, Virginia
This approach has resulted in reducing the number of foster youth living in group homes from 250 to less than 50. Mr. Hinson also serves on the Virginia State Leadership Advisory Team and has become a resource to parents as their children return home. He also is a trainer and mentor to new foster parents, offering support and advice to all who ask.
Although Mr. Hinson acts as a father to many, he supports them connecting and living with their families even as they move toward adulthood. Mr. Hinson is an active member of his community having served as a leader in Kiwanis, the Arc and the Hampton Special Education Advisory Board.
Kinship Caregiver Award
Sharon Olson, Elk River, Minnesota
Ms. Olson was instrumental in the passage of Minnesota’s De Facto Custodian legislation, which was adopted in 2002 after years of research, advocacy and coalition building. For over 10 years, Sharon has served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association, and as the Board Chair for the past two years.
Working at the national level, Ms. Olson co-founded Grand Families of America (GFA) and currently serves as vice president. GFA’s purpose and mission is to ensure that the voice of the caregiver is heard by legislators and policymakers in Washington, D.C. GFA partners with other national organizations to respond to requests from Congress for the caregivers’ perspective on relevant legislation and real world impact of legislation on caregivers.
Ms. Olson’s work for GFA includes: helping to organize the national grand rally that brings relatives to Washington to learn about current issues and to speak with their representatives; advocating for the passage of federal legislation, the most recent being the Fostering Connections Act; serving on committees looking at child welfare and mental health issues; responding to caregivers across the country who need assistance; and helping to create a manual that provides a plain language explanation of legislation that affects the rights of relative caregivers.