BERLIN – Officials recognized Berlin resident Christine Queen as the 2017 Worcester County Foster Parent of the Year this week.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners, also recognizing May as National Foster Care Month, honored Queen for her efforts to fill a community need by providing foster care for local children.
“I don’t think anyone in this room doesn’t understand the importance of what you all do,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said. “For individuals to open up their homes to the children who are most vulnerable, most in need, is really something special.”
According to Jamie Manning, foster care supervisor for the Worcester County Department of Social Services, Queen has provided care for nine children since being licensed as a resource parent in May of 2016.
“In her short time as a licensed foster parent, Christine has been a tremendous asset to the children and families in this community,” Manning said.
As a foster parent, Queen has taken children to court proceedings, handled visitation for the kids in her home and has maintained open communication with the birth parents of the children in her care.
“Christine makes it a priority not to judge, criticize or antagonize a family’s situation and provides patience, understanding and compassion to birth parents,” Manning said.
Queen was inspired to become a foster parent last year. Since high school, she’d talked about adopting a child.
“Here I am in my 30s,” she said. “I thought I’d start the process of adoption.”
After visiting a private adoption agency, she realized it wasn’t what she was looking for.
“I want to help a child that doesn’t have a safe place to go,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with children I just didn’t know how.”
And so she contacted Manning’s department and underwent training to become a foster parent. Since then she’s provided short-term care for several children and long-term care for others. She currently has three girls, ages 3, 4 and 12, in her home now.
“They all interact together and get along really well,” she said.
For her, the most challenging part of being a foster parent has been helping a new child get into a routine in her home. She’s grateful for the extensive training she was given before she was licensed.
“They provided a lot of training,” she said, adding that at the time, she thought some of the scenarios they outlined were unlikely. “I thought ‘oh that doesn’t happen.’ But it does.”
Nevertheless she’s thrilled to be providing local children with a safe place to stay. Just what does she like about being a foster parent?
“Everything,” Queen said. “It is hard because you get attached but at the same time you get to know their families and a lot of them agree that you can maintain contact with the children (once they leave).”
Worcester County currently has 35 children in its foster care system. Manning says the county is fortunate to have 21 licensed providers like Queen but still needs others.
“It is resource parents like Ms. Queen and child welfare staff that give children in foster care the promise of possibility and opportunity to succeed while going through a traumatic time in their childhood,” Manning said. “We are fortunate to have nurturing foster parents like her.”