May 23, 2024

DHS recognizes the 2024 Foster Caregivers of the Year

National Foster Care Awareness Month

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to celebrate our current foster caregivers and their commitment to providing stable, loving homes for children and youth in foster care. We also use this time to raise awareness of the urgent need for additional foster caregivers across the state.  

Each year during National Foster Care Awareness Month, the Department of Human Services’ Division of Family & Children Services recognizes a Foster Caregiver of the Year winner from each of the 14 regions across the state. The Foster Caregiver of the Year award honors the foster caregivers and families who go above and beyond to provide a stable and loving home for children and youth in care.

Meet the 2024 Foster Caregiver of the Year award recipients.  

Region 1: Tracy and Patricia Morgan 

Tracy and Patricia Morgan have proudly served as foster parents since 2017. Since their approval, the Morgans have fostered 59 children, adopted 4, and have guardianship of another child. The Morgans are great examples of partnership parents. They partner alongside the children’s birth parents to ensure household items are purchased and clean environments are maintained in preparation for reunification efforts. The Morgans often provide care for children with additional health needs and go above and beyond to ensure they understand these needs by attending specialized trainings. The Morgan family continues to make constant efforts to help the children and families within their region. 

Region 2: Warren Robertson  

Warren Robertson became a foster caregiver in 2021. Since partnering with the agency, he has provided placements for 20 teens and adopted a son, Ben. Mr. Robertson has a heart for older youth with complex needs, which has been an invaluable resource within his region. Mr. Robertson has successfully reunited a sibling group of five teen boys with their biological father and has accepted multiple emergency placements. For the youth in his care, Mr. Robertson spends countless hours teaching them practical life skills, driving them to and from jobs, teaching them to drive, and helping them learn responsibility. His dedication has transformed the lives of countless youth in foster care. 

Region 3: Joyce Philman 

Since becoming a foster caregiver in 2015, Joyce Philman has provided a safe and loving home for over 50 youth in care. Many children placed in Ms. Philman’s care are medically fragile and have complex needs. Her ability to understand their needs and provide the appropriate care and support is truly admirable. Ms. Philman has received specialized training in autism, teaching the blind and deaf, dyslexia, and teaching English as a second language. Her wealth of knowledge makes her an incredible asset to our state and the children in her care. Ms. Philman continues to mentor many youth who were previously placed in her care who are now young adults. She provides encouragement and helps them find jobs, housing, transportation, and financial support when needed. Ms. Philman continues to make an impact on the children and youth she fosters, as well as on the entire foster care system. 

Region 4: Kevin Hamilton 

Kevin Hamilton has been a foster caregiver for over 10 years. During his time with the agency, he has fostered 30 children and adopted two. Mr. Hamilton actively encourages the youth in his care to work hard in school and pursue their dreams. At the age of two, Mr. Hamilton was placed in foster care where he remained in the same placement home until he aged out of care at 18. After aging out of care, Mr. Hamilton earned various degrees that led him to become an educator, principal, and school counselor. The determination he displayed in his own life journey helps Mr. Hamilton relate to and encourage the youth placed in his home. Mr. Hamilton is an extraordinary example of perseverance and using your experiences to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Region 5: Styliket Bercy 

Since 2020, Styliket Bercy has served as a foster caregiver, providing a loving a caring home for over 40 children and youth in Georgia’s foster care system. Mr. Bercy often provides emergency placements and has cared for several sibling groups. Mr. Bercy serves as a role model for the youth in his care, teaching them important life skills and helping them create better outcomes and reactions to their situations. Mr. Bercy values responsibility and utilizes healthy conversations as a tool to understand the behaviors and frustrations of the youth in his care. As a predominantly emergency placement home, Mr. Bercy’s time with youth is often short. However, he makes every effort to give these youth a safe and loving environment no matter how long they stay. 

Region 6: Eric and Jennifer Minter 

Eric and Jennifer Minter have been foster parents for seven years. During this time, the Minters have fostered 38 children, including several sibling groups and teens. The two attend all therapy sessions, doctor's appointments, court hearings, agency meetings, and extracurricular activities for the children in their care. They work to build relationships with every child and serve as educational and emotional advocates for them. The Minter family actively works to build and maintain relationships with birth parents, extending invites to all the children’s activities, appointments, holidays, and events. They continue to maintain relationships with children and families even after reunification. The Minter family tries to include every child in church activities, sports, hobbies, and family vacations. They work to find the strengths in every child and encourage them to build upon those. The Minters are a great team, and their selflessness and compassion will have a lasting impact on Georgia’s children and families. 

Region 7: Donald and Linda Westra 

Donald and Linda Westra became foster parents in 2022. Since their approval, the Westras have partnered with the division by opening their home for emergency and short-term placements for children and youth in care. Prior to becoming foster parents, Mr. Westra served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, also known as CASA. After a year of serving as a CASA, the Westras realized the urgent need for foster parents and felt a strong calling to become caregivers. The Westra family has made a positive impact on the lives of countless children. They work hard to provide a loving and stable environment for every child placed in their care. 

Region 8: Shalee Mallory 

Shalee Mallory has been a foster caregiver with DFCS since 2020. Over the past four years, Ms. Mallory has accepted seven long-term placements, one respite placement, and has adopted one child. She works alongside birth families toward reunification and transports children to family visits. She shared that loving birth parents is vital to her success as a partnership parent. Prioritizing communication and organization have made Ms. Mallory an outstanding caregiver. She’s always readily available to advocate for the youth in her care, making her an asset to her region.  

Region 9: Roderick and Stephanie Rentz 

Roderick and Stephanie Rentz are great examples of strength and compassion. The Rentz family have been foster caregivers since 2017. Initially opening their home for kinship placement, they quickly transitioned into fostering, displaying an unwavering commitment to provide temporary care for children in need. When a medically fragile child was placed in their care, Roderick and Stephanie went above and beyond to remain by the child’s side throughout hospitalization while also continuing to care for their two adoptive sons. When asked what they would tell those interested in becoming a caregiver, the Rentz family emphasized the importance of prioritizing the needs of the children above all else – a testament to their dedication to provide love, stability, and support to the children and youth in their care. 

Region 10: Joann Smith 

In 2002, Joann Smith adopted her son. In 2010, she decided to open her home to help other youth in need of a safe, loving environment. Since becoming a foster caregiver, Ms. Smith has fostered over 100 youth. Ms. Smith believes that everyone deserves a second chance and a stable home. She understands the need for placements for older youth and has made it her mission to open her heart and her home to these teens. She encourages the youth in her home to become self-sufficient, live independently, and maintain stable employment while also becoming a well-rounded, healthy, and happy young adult. She works hard to educate youth on financial responsibility and the importance of earning income independently. Ms. Smith is dedicated to serving Georgia’s youth with selflessness and continues to make an impact on the lives of countless teens.

Region 11: Stephanie and Christa Causey 

Since 2018, Stephanie and Christa Causey have served as foster caregivers, providing a loving and caring home for 16 long-term placements. The Causey family has worked alongside birth families toward reunification, transported children to family visits, and helped encourage and strengthen sibling bonds. The Causeys love, nurture, and advocate for every child placed in their care. They are dedicated to opening their hearts and their home to Georgia’s children and families in need. They are excellent partners with the agency, completing tasks quickly and making themselves readily available for home visits. The Causeys personify love and compassion and continue to make a difference in the lives of many. 

Region 12: Rawle Hussain 

Rawle Hussain became a foster parent in Georgia in 2022. Since then, he has fostered over 20 children and youth. Mr. Hussain was inspired by his mother, Yvonne Hussain, whose servant heart led her to fostering, serving countless individuals. Wanting to follow in her footsteps, Mr. Hussain first became a caregiver in New York. He still remains in contact with the youth who were placed in his care during that time. After moving to Georgia, he wanted to continue loving and supporting youth through foster care. Mr. Hussain’s commitment, passion, and dedication to Georgia’s children is an example of how one person can make a difference in the lives of many. 

Region 13: Lavella and Shelia Chatman

Since being approved in 2022, Lavella and Shelia Chatman have provided care for over 45 children. The Chatman’s shared passion for caring for children with additional needs has made them a dynamic duo. They provide each child that comes into their home with joyful memories. They foster emotional understanding, encourage social interactions, teach essential life skills, and strive to instill a sense of purpose in each child’s life. The Chatman family is a great example of what it means to be selfless, and they continue to have lasting impact on Georgia’s children and youth in foster care. 

Region 14: Ken Turner and Martha Simmons  

Ken Turner and Martha Simmons have been foster caregivers since 2018. Over the years, the couple has provided a stable and loving home for 46 children and youth ages newborn to 18. The two have a heart for teens and have gone above and beyond for youth placed in their care. They help youth meet educational needs, apply to college, secure jobs, attend therapy, learn to cook, and create budgets. Mr. Turner and Ms. Simmons also work hard to support birth families and reunification efforts, exemplifying what it means to be partnership parents. The two are always eager to open their home and remain enthusiastic about helping children in need. Their support of DFCS and the local Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia chapter is remarkable. 

DHS is incredibly grateful for the dedication and support displayed by these caregivers and the countless other foster families within our communities. Our state could not thrive without the partnership from our foster caregivers and families and their commitment to help keep Georgia’s children and families safe.  

We are currently in need of foster caregivers for older youth, sibling groups, and children with complex needs. If you’re interested in learning more about foster care in Georgia, visit or call 1-877-210-KIDS (5437).