By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Stephanie and Doug Gillum of Berea will be honored as Foster Parents of the Year tonight during an appreciation reception at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Candy Worley, also of Berea, will be honored as an Outstanding Adoptive Parent.
The event is hosted by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Community Based Services Southern Bluegrass Service Region, which covers 10 counties.
“The Gillums have continuously proven their unconditional love for the many children that have spent time in their home,” DCBS Social Services Clinician Kimberly Tandy said in her nomination letter.
“They have unselfishly devoted their time and support to each child that has stepped foot into their home, as well as the to the birth family,” she wrote.
The Gillums have been resource parents with the agency since March 2011, and have fostered several children since, she said. Along with their two biological daughters, Emily, 12, and Meghan, 16, they have adopted a sibling group of three, Kristen, 18, Kelsie, 15, and Tyler, 7. The Gillums also have opened their home to three foster children, an 8-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and her younger brother, who is 3.
Once, the couple had a sibling group placed in their home and the oldest child was a cancer patient. To meet that child’s needs, the Gillums were willing to shuffle their schedules to attend a medically fragile training so the siblings could stay with them, Tandy said.
Because of the significant needs of the sick child, the children were placed in an established medically fragile foster home a few weeks later, but the Gillums continued to visit them and provide support, Tandy said.
“Stephanie and Doug are loving, patient and kind parents who are the definition of what a resource family is, and they prove it every day through their care for children,” she said.
Worley, a school teacher, has been taking children into her home since 2010, said DCBS Social Services Clinician Kristen Breeden in her nomination letter. This year, Worley finalized the adoption of three children, ages 5, 15 and 16.
“She (Worley) has shown unconditional love to all of the children placed in her home,” said Breeden. “The children placed in the home of Candy Worley truly blossom under her care, love and attention.”
In addition to serving as a mentor family to new resource parents, Worley also is fluent in Spanish and is willing to help other families understand the cultural difference and language barriers they may be facing, Breeden said.
There are 1,261 children in out-of-home care in the Southern Bluegrass Region, which includes Madison, Clark, Estill, Garrard, Lincoln, Powell Boyle, Mercer, Jessamine and Fayette counties. Of those children, 200 are in Madison County. There are 7,340 children in foster care statewide, Tandy said.
In Kentucky, there are 2,065 state-approved foster homes, with 308 homes in the Southern Bluegrass Region and 53 in Madison County, she added.