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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Four Colorado Foster Families Recognized for Outstanding Commitment

PHOTO: The Colorado Department of Human Services recognized four families for their dedication to Colorado's foster kids and commitment to providing a safe home for children. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of Human Services.
PHOTO: The Colorado Department of Human Services recognized four families for their dedication to Colorado's foster kids and commitment to providing a safe home for children. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of Human Services.
May 19, 2015

DENVER - Four families were honored at the Governor's Mansion over the weekend for their contributions as foster parents to Colorado kids: Jennifer and Alex Rodriguez from Roggen; Kim and Jesse Moses from Calhan; Julie Ellis and Malibu James from Aurora; and Kurt and Jennifer Walker from Windsor.

Beverly Gmerek, recruitment and retention specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services, says one thing all four families had in common was keeping families together.

"They've worked really hard at keeping siblings together," says Gmerek. "We want siblings to be together and be raised together and to keep those connections because that sibling relationship goes on for the rest of your life."

The Rodriguezes have a full house with 10 kids; six are under 8 years old. In addition to their four biological kids, they care for one foster child and have adopted five more children, several of which are biological siblings.

The Moses family has given a home to 22 kids over 8 years, and have managed to keep kids connected with their biological parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Each year they host a "family reunion" for their former and current foster children and their biological families. Gmerek says they have inspired neighbors and even one of their former foster kids to become foster parents.

"We have more than 2,000 certified foster parents in Colorado today, but we always need more," she says. "When you're thinking, 'Gee, is there something I can do for kids in Colorado?' this is definitely something you can do."

The Ellis-James family focuses mostly on older kids, all of whom are active in a choir for at-risk children. The Walkers, both neonatal intensive-care nurses, have a specialized medical home where they care for drug-addicted newborns.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO