San Diego County names its foster Parent of the Year - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

San Diego County names its foster Parent of the Year

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A local woman says she was inspired to help foster children, after growing up with a high school friend who lived in an amazing foster home.

Barbie Caldwell and her husband Randy have taken in more than 50 foster kids through the years. Barbie is also the founder of a charity that supports foster families by organizing fun events and providing resources. This extraordinary woman has also just been named San Diego County's Foster Parent of the Year.

“I wanted to be able to serve foster families, rather than individual foster children,” said Barbie Caldwell the founder of Connected Through Kids.

When Barbie first became a foster parent 15 years ago, she immediately saw the impact it had on her three biological sons.

“My boys were 16 and 11 and 10 when we started doing this, and everybody helped. We took babies and everybody loved the babies and helped hold these babies, some of them were withdrawing from drugs, screaming for hours at a time,” continued Barbie. “It was a sacrifice for my kids. They had to give up a lot from time to time to be able to for our family to be able to take care of those kids.”

And that is why, Barbie founded a charity in 2006, called Connected Through Kids, which plans free events for entire foster families to enjoy.

“It's just sacrifice for everyone, reward for everyone,” she said.

Connected Through Kids hosts an annual camping trip:

“We've had as many as 20 families go on the camping trip.”

There are fun days at the beach, visits to local farms, car seat training, first aid training and outings to explore San Diego's popular attractions and events, such as Padres games.

“We do plays, if we can get tickets, all kinds of things, and we just make it into a group outing and we all go together,” added Barbie.

It's a lifeline for many foster families.

“I think it gives them an opportunity to come out and do things they might not otherwise be able to do because of cost because they might have too many kids,” noted Barbie.

And they take comfort in knowing, those around them, will understand potential behavioral problems others might not understand.

“We're all the same, we all have kids that all have the same issues and we just enjoy each other’s company,” said Barbie.

With the support of her husband, Barbie has opened their home to dozens of foster children through the years.

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of probably 50, some for just a few days, some for 18 months,” said Barbie.

And because of her tireless work as a foster parent and advocate for foster families, Barbie was recently named San Diego County's Foster Parent of the Year.

“Just helping kids grow up in safe loving homes, she's just amazing we just feel very blessed to have her as part of our team,” said protective services worker Nicole Espinosa with

“I don't do this for the glory of anything, I just do it because I want to help and I love kids and it's an honor and privilege,” said Barbie.

If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U.

If you would like to support the charity Connected Through Kids, which relies on donations from businesses and organizations that can provide fun events for foster families, CLICK HERE >>

CBS News 8 would also like to thank TJ Sinsay, of Sinsay Fitography, for the photos taken at the Foster Parent Appreciation Banquet.

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