STARS Graduation: Eight Families Set Out to Foster

On Saturday, March 14, eight families received their graduation certificates from Coyote Hill, having completed STARS training. The first step to becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri is Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills program, known as STARS. The course introduces prospective foster and adoptive families to the rewards and challenges involved in caring for Missouri’s most vulnerable children.

In January, this inaugural class arrived at Community United Methodist Church in Columbia for their first session, not really knowing each other. It was clear when they left their last class on Saturday, however, that they have become a big family.

The first step to becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri is Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills program, known as STARS. | coyotehill.org
The people in this photo represent eight families who are now licensed to bring children in foster care into their homes – to care for them and love them.

“My favorite part of the process was getting to know and care for the other couples in the class and the instructors,” Hilary Hardesty, a STARS participant said. “By the end it felt like we were a close community who were in this together. The class size was ideal because it was large enough to allow for healthy conversation, but small enough that the class could get to know each other and bond.”

During the graduation ceremony, Family Advocacy Specialist Paige Douce and Training Supervisor Amy Kingery handed out certificates to everyone. Additionally, Coyote Hill was able to surprise each family with a handmade rocking chair.

The rocking chairs were made by Coyote Hill Supporter Tom Head. The cost to make them was covered by Community United Methodist Church.

In addition to providing these required classes, Coyote Hill also conducted home visits for the families as they begin preparing their homes for children in foster care. 

Now that the licensing process is complete, many of them will soon get their first placements. In fact, one of the families already has two children in their home.  

Coyote Hill will continue to support these families with therapy and resources as they bring children into their homes.  

“I feel like a mom who is watching her senior graduate and go off to college,” Foster Care Services Director Aubrey Ash said. “I have grown to care for and respect each of these families and am so proud that they are saying ‘yes!’ They are uniquely wonderful in their own right and they will do an amazing job as they bring children into their homes who need a loving, safe space.”

Eight families graduated from Coyote Hill STARS training on Saturday, March 14. | coyotehill.org
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