Utah Foster Care (UFC) is a nationally recognized nonprofit which finds, trains, and supports Utah families, who are willing and able to provide a nurturing home for children in foster care. In Utah, more than 2,600 children are in foster care at any given time because their own families are in crisis. Substance abuse is often a factor in cases where children are removed from their biological homes.
Born to Serve
Utah Foster Care (UFC) is a private 501(c)(3) (our W-9 Form) created by the Utah legislature and Governor Mike Leavitt in 1999. Our mission is to develop innovative strategies to help recruit, train, and retain foster families. UFC fulfills this mission through a contract with the Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS).
When the Legislature and Governor Mike Leavitt created UFC, they envisioned a state where children who must spend time in out-of-home care are offered safe, loving, and stable homes until they can be reunited with their families or placed in a permanent adoptive home. Utah Foster Care has recruited and trained more than 12,000 families since its inception.
United in Service to Utah’s Children
Utah Foster Care (UFC) is a proud member of a team of state and private agencies serving the needs of children and families in crisis. Three agencies, in particular, form a powerful front in this ongoing effort:
Utah Foster Care
We’re Utah Foster Care, and we’re a private, non-profit organization that has a contract with the State of Utah. We find, train, and nurture foster families — we also train kinship and specific caregivers. Once they’re licensed, we support foster families through donor-supported programs and ongoing training. This whole site is about us!
Utah’s Office of Licensing
Utah’s Office of Licensing (OL) is a state agency under Utah’s Department of Human Services. OL licenses foster families as part of its broader mission. OL is responsible to make sure that families meet all of the required licensing standards. As part of this process, licensors visit the homes of prospective foster/adoptive families in order to complete what’s called a “home study”.
Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services
Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) is also part of Utah’s Department of Human Services. DCFS is responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect. When it’s determined children are no longer safe to remain with their biological families, DCFS places them in foster care. DCFS then continues to supervise their care and oversee the services they receive.
We’re Organized to Achieve Our Mission
Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment
The best description of the role of the Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment Department is found in the Utah Foster Care (UFC) mission statement: We find families to meet the needs of children in foster care. While a simple statement, there is a lot that comes with it.
We find families to meet the needs of Utah children in foster care.
Children in foster care are a diverse group. There are boys and girls, of course. Many (two-thirds!) have siblings in foster care. They range in age from birth to 19 and come from every race, culture, ethnicity, religion, and economic status found in Utah. They also come with a wide range of individual needs and challenges as a result of past abuse and neglect. Children in foster care are best served when they are able to be cared for by families most like them. This requires an equally diverse group of foster/adoptive families. There is an array of misconceptions and myths in our communities about children in foster care and the foster care system. Utah Foster Care looks for opportunities to correct these misconceptions and to move the discussion in new and helpful directions. And we rely on the community to listen, as foster and adoptive parents tell their stories and the stories of the children they care for.
- Dan Webster — (801) 783-4156
- Program Director
Foster/Adoptive Family Education
The Education team at Utah Foster Care (UFC) is committed to helping foster, adoptive, and kinship/specific care families learn all they can about the challenges they may face, as they nurture and raise children from other families. It’s not easy caring for another family’s child. Our desire as a team is to enhance that parenting experience by providing evidence-based programs and clinically proven ways to teach parents effective skills.
Our other goal is to prepare our foster parents to recognize their own needs, and be able to seek out supportive services for themselves. Caring for children can be an exhaustive experience and take a toll on the entire family.
Our staff has life experience, as well as advanced educational backgrounds that work well when trying to transfer learning skills into daily parenting. Resource families are often the first line of direct services when behavioral, emotional and physical problems arise with children in foster care. Our primary goal is to prepare foster parents as best we can to answer to the overwhelming needs of these children. Our other goal is to prepare our foster parents to recognize their own needs and be able to seek out supportive services for themselves. Caring for children can be an exhaustive experience and take a toll on the entire family. It is within this complex set of dynamics we find dedicated, compassionate foster/adoptive/kin parents serving Utah’s children. They are professionals who hold down jobs, care for biological children and offer their homes and hearts to other children in need. We, as an educational team, feel an intense commitment to provide these families with all of the tools necessary to care for each child, in each home, every day. Our classes are held frequently, in multiple locations throughout Utah and offer hundreds of pertinent topics. It is a privilege for us to share in the learning with dedicated families caring for these vulnerable children.
- Liz Rivera — (801) 783-4645
- Program Director
Foster/Adoptive Family Retention
Our goal in the Foster Family Retention Department is to support foster parents (also called “resource families”) in their commitment to children in foster care. While taking on these important roles, families are often left to their own devices to navigate the complex child welfare system and locate and obtain the needed supports and services for themselves and the children placed in their homes.
The support, training, and professional regard given to foster parents is imperative in the retention of families willing to care for children with mental, behavioral, or emotional issues.
Foster families are asked to take on a number of roles, including: nurturing the children they care for, supporting their emotional and physical development, providing guidance and discipline, advocating on the child’s behalf within the school system, mentoring birth parents, supporting the relationship between birthparents and their children, and assisting with the recruitment, training, and mentoring of other foster parents. Resource parents in Utah must be seen as significant and indispensable components of the child welfare system. Families need to be valued, respected, and considered part of the team. They need to have a voice regarding the important decisions impacting the lives of the children they care for. The support, training, and professional regard given to foster parents is imperative in the retention of families willing to care for children with mental, behavioral, or emotional issues.
- Nikki MacKay — (801) 783-4647
- Program Director
Statewide Support & Administration
Utah Foster Care (UFC) is a statewide organization with offices located in Ogden, Vernal, Roosevelt, Price, Orem, St George, Richfield, Moab, and corporate office in Murray. While most of the hard work of fulfilling our mission of finding, educating, and nurturing Utah’s foster families is done at the region level, a small and dedicated team of behind-the-scenes miracle workers is stationed at UFC headquarters.
- Lee Wright — (801) 413-7520
- Human Resources Director
Oversight & Vision
Utah Foster Care’s volunteer Board of Directors exercises fiduciary oversight and network on behalf of UFC’s mission in the broader community.
Chief Executive Officer
Utah Foster Care***
Chief Financial Officer
Utah Foster Care***
Robert Gerlach, Chair*
Founder & President
Gerlach Consulting Group/PantoChrome
Jeannine P. Timothy, Vice-chair*
Guardian ad Litem
Jillian Lessner, Board Treasurer *
Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
Western Electricity Coordinating Council
Landon Hardcastle, Board Secretary*
Attorney at Law
Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property
Becton Dickinson & Company
Senior Vice President
Western Governors University
* Executive Committee***
Founder & Owner
Peak Performance CCT, LLC
Attorney at Law
Independent Marketing Consultant