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DHS news release

May 22, 2007

Media contact: Patricia Feeny, 503-945-6955

Longtime Oregon foster parent receives national recognition


Scio resident is honored with 2007 Commissioner's Award

The federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families honored an Oregon foster parent with the 2007 Commissioner's Award, recognizing his contributions to the safety and protection of abused and neglected children.

Regarded by many as Oregon's father of foster care, Don Darland is one of the founders and current president of the Oregon Foster Parent Association. He and his wife Vicki, who live in Scio, have been foster parents for 16 years, providing care to more than 50 children.

"I'm very honored because this is a team effort," said Darland. "My wife's experience as a registered nurse with a psychiatric background and my time as a Marine Corps officer have taught us priceless nuggets of critical thinking and the life-and-death importance of team work."

Darland advocates for the needs of children through his involvement with numerous boards and committees, including the statutorily regulated Child Welfare Advisory Committee, the Linn County Foster Parent Association, the Linn County Commission on Children and Families, the Children's Justice Act Task Force, and the State Foster Parent Advisory Committee.

In addition, he works for Portland State University, providing consultation and training services for foster parents around the state. Whether the title is teacher, parent, mentor, advocate or adviser, the key to success is building and nurturing relationships, Darland said.

His motto? Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.

"My personal and professional emphasis is building relationships," said Darland. "It just makes sense to share knowledge, based on mutual respect, to try and make the best decisions for children."

Kevin George, who manages the state's foster care program through the Oregon Department of Human Services, has worked with Darland for many years.

He said that Darland consistently earns respect and engenders loyalty from fellow advocates and foster parents, judges and social workers, educators, and law enforcement officials.

"Because of his compassion, caring and commitment, numerous abused and neglected children are in a better place," George said. "All children should have a Don Darland in their corner."

Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent is invited to call 1-800-331-0503 for more information.