Mom of the year implores parents to open hearts, homes to foster children

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In the face of a critical shortage of licensed foster homes, Stephanie Olsen, the state’s foster mom of the year, implored Utahns Thursday to open their hearts and homes to help hundreds of children in state care.

RIVERTON — Stephanie Olsen isn’t one to sugarcoat her message.

Being a foster parent can be heart-wrenching, exasperating and the stuff of seemingly endless demands.

“I never shy away from saying it’s difficult, because it is. There’s lots of tears. But there’s a lot of happy moments, too,” she said Thursday at Riverton City Hall, where she was honored as Utah’s Foster Mom of the Year.

Olsen and her husband, Dan, have three biological children. They have adopted seven children whom they fostered, and the adoption of an eighth foster child is in the works. The are also caring for three young children in state custody ages 3 to 7.

Most of the kids the couple has fostered are children who are more difficult to place, such as older teens and large sibling groups. But when the Olsens were recently asked to care for three young siblings, the entire family stepped up to help, Olsen said.

Part of the reason is because the Olsen children who were previously in foster care know why it’s important to keep siblings together. But it’s also because the…

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