Tammy Nielson’s best advice for foster parents is to be “in it for the kids.”
It all began with two people – Tammy and her husband Chad, who wanted to make a difference for teenagers. Almost half the children in foster care are teenagers! The Nielsons had opened their home to many children over the years and had been able to see the children’s lives change. Suddenly, Chad passed away in his sleep. Now Tammy carries on, heading a family of nine young men, all between the ages of 12-20 (three of them are not shown in the photo).
Foster Family of the Year
Each time a family makes the decision to welcome a child in foster care into their home, it affects everyone. Not just the foster parents, but children and even extended family. It’s a team effort. This year for the first time, Utah Foster Care is honoring five Foster Families of the Year and the Nielsons are one of them.
“Tammy is outstanding in the way she cares for her youth in foster care,” says her Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) caseworker. “She empowers them and allows them to feel, navigate and express their feelings. Tammy is inclusive, making them feel like family.”
Tammy also believes being “all in it for the kids” means supporting children in foster care being reunified with their families. That is evident in her daily life, as she maintains relationships with parents and kids who have been in her care.
Tammy works at the Spectrum Academy charter school for students with high-functioning autism and other neurodiversity. And after the boys go to bed, she works a couple shifts as a JetBlue customer support crew member.
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