Kathy & Chuck Mertz have been foster parents for many years and since joining Hope For Youth they have been instrumental in the success of multiple youth. Kathy & Chuck listen intently when a youth’s story is shared, they prepare their home and extended family to welcome this young person, and once a child is placed they communicate regularly with the HFY team to ensure that the youth receives all the services to help them heal physically, emotionally and mentally. Over the past year Kathy and Chuck have worked diligently and lovingly to help ensure one young girl received all the care she needed. This included spending nights in the hospital with her, visiting regularly and advocating for her needs. They are always right by this youth’s side supporting her & caring for her as any parent would for their child. Kathy and Chuck continuously demonstrate a true understanding of foster care and all of the unpredictable things that come with this journey. They are always open to taking youth into their home even if they are outside of their requested age range, this can be challenging yet the Mertz are always willing to step out of their comfort zone to make sure the needs of the children are met. In addition to taking placements of their own, they come alongside other foster families to provide respite and support. This family has done an amazing job advocating for children transitioning back to their home of origin and working to rebuild healthy relationships between children in care and their families; their dedication to the children & youth that are placed in their home is inspiring. They have become every day heroes in the lives of the youth they encounter as well as mentors for new foster parents coming on board at Hope For Youth. For these and many other reasons Hope For Youth is proud to Honor Kathy and Chuck Mertz as the 2018 Foster Family of the Year.