Willie and Paula Aristene of Stafford, VA have been named KidsPeace’s 2022 National Foster Parents of the Year. The Aristenes’ selection was announced at the conclusion of the organization’s first-ever Foster Care Virtual National Conference May 21st.
The couple was one of six foster families nominated for the award – one from each of the states served by KidsPeace’s Foster Care and Community Programs (FCCP) operations. In announcing the award, KidsPeace FCCP Executive Director Steve Howe noted that the selection committee cited the Aristenes’ willingness to take on the care of challenging foster children and record of success with the children placed in their home – quoting one reviewer’s comment that “The Aristenes were born with the ability to change someone’s life.”
The couple were nominated for the recognition by KidsPeace Virginia state manager Jessica Mendez. In her nomination, Mendez noted the Aristenes’ commitment to helping many different children through fostering. “They have taken infants all the way up to 18-year-olds into their home, they have kept in contact with the children who have left the home and moved on, they have celebrated the children’s high school graduations, they have accepted respite placements and are always our ‘go to’ family when we are struggling to find a placement for a youth,” Mendez said.
“Frankly, we in the Richmond office are floored over and over again at the Aristenes’ willingness to go above and beyond in their dedication to ALL children they bring into their home,” Mendez adds.
As a result of being named KidsPeace National Foster Parents of the Year, the Aristenes received an all-expense-paid trip to the National Family Focused Treatment Association’s (FFTA) conference in New Orleans this summer.
The other state nominees included: Madison Eckert and Josh Mandeville of Franklin, IN; Laurie and Chris Tomascik of Richmond, ME; Ann Mathis of Kingston, NY; Blanche Royall of Angier, NC; and Christina and Jeremy Schoenrock of Pottstown, PA. Each nominated family will receive a $500 cash prize, and a plaque recognizing their achievement.
The awards were made possible through the generosity of donors to the KidsPeace Foundation.