NFPA’s History

A Timeline of Tradition: Decades of Dedication to Foster Families through Networking, Education, and Advocacy.

Prefer to view the timeline from the beginning?

1990s Highlights


1990 – 1992 Ralph Willenbring (MN)

1992 – 1996 Cora White (WI)

1996 – 2000 Shirley Hedges (KY)

Executive Directors/Administrators

1995 – 1996 Marianne Takas

1999 Karen Jorgenson


1990 Phoenix, AZ Mi Casa es su Casa (My Home is Your Home)

1991 Minneapolis, MN Building Brighter Futures

1992 Atlanta, GA If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me

1993 Salt Lake City, UT Your Heart and Home Make a Difference

1994 Grand Rapids, MI Training Today for A Brighter Tomorrow

1995 Chicago, IL A New Beginning-Back to Basics: Renewing Our Commitment

1996 Los Angeles, CA Foster Parents Caring for America’s Children

1997 Lexington, KY Place a Bet for the Future-Love a Child

1998 Orlando, FL

1999 Albuquerque, NM “Help the Sun Rise in a Child’s Life”

The NFPA Board of Directors provided comments on the publication, Impact of Economic Incentives on Foster Parents.

The NFPA Legislative Chair, Irene Clements, develops NFPA ADVOCACY 101 to be used for education and training purposes at the NFPA annual conferences, as well as at state foster parent association conferences.

Jake Terpstra, Foster Care Specialist at the U.S. Children’s Bureau, writes Specialized Family Home Care and A Concept Paper on Family Foster Care; both are utilized by the NFPA for future planning.

NFPA establishes the Benjamin Eaton Scholarship Fund for high school seniors who are foster, adoptive and birth children in licensed NFPA member foster families. The number of scholarships awarded each year is dependent on the funds available. Eligible youth are required to complete an application for consideration.

Gordon Evans, NFPA Board member, is appointed as Director of NFPA’s new Information and Services Office.

The 1980's
The 1980's


NFPA Board Member and National Advocate Editor, Gordon Evans, is selected to serve on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect for the Office of the Human Development Services. He provides input as a valued member of this advisory board. During this time, information developed by this advisory board is shared with the NFPA membership through the Information and Services Office and the NFPA National Advocate newsletter.

NFPA collaborates with the Child Welfare Institute in Atlanta on a study of all 50 state child welfare agencies that addressed pre-service and in-service training for foster parents, foster parent adoptions, implications and next steps.

CWLA appoints Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW, foster/adoptive parent and NFPA member as its first national director for family foster care and adoption. Pasztor had begun working with Helen Stone in 1978 for the CWLA Foster Care Education Project; and recognized for her work on the Nova Model of Foster Parent Recruitment, Assessment, and Training and MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting).

NFPA considers a concept paper from CWLA, a NFPA co-founder, to develop a national office with organizational supports. The objectives are to provide a central location for the NFPA; support lobbying activities; work with state associations; and develop research, demonstration, and other projects. NFPA declines the offer.

The American Bar Association publishes “The Rights of Foster Parents.” NFPA collaborates with the ABA, CWLA, and other national organizations to support the development of Foster Parent Rights in each state. This work continues through the 1990’s and 2000’s.

NFPA members review and vote to approve several new Position Statements during the General Membership Meeting at the annual education conference held in Parsippany, NJ.


The NFPA persuades U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) to introduce a resolution to proclaim May as National Foster Care Month. President George Bush issued the annual proclamation during each hear of his presidency, providing an impetus for state, county and city proclamations across the United States. This continues today.


NFPA collaborates with U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families regarding reforms for the foster care system, providing numerous recommendations.

NFPA collaborates with New York Department of Law regarding litigation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the inclusion of foster care maintenance payments in the income of foster parents for the purpose of determining their eligibility for food stamps and for calculating the amount of food stamps to be provided (becoming Foster v. Calani, 1988).

The NFPA Progress Plan is shared with members of the NFPA to inform successful work of the NFPA and help them better understand the ongoing advocacy, education and networking on their behalf.


Child Welfare Institute headquartered in Atlanta begins to create the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP). Reinforcing the role of foster parents as a resource and recognizing the value of foster parent adoptions, MAPP integrates recruitment, preservice training, and home studies for foster and adoptive parents together. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services pioneers initial implementation.


NFPA members, including Irene Clements, Marc Jacobs, Eileen Mayers Pasztor, Emily Jean McFadden, and Carolyne Rodriguez, participate in the International Foster Care Organization (IFCO) conference in Christ Church, New Zealand.

Researchers William (Bill) Meezan and Joan Shireman publish “Antecedents to foster parent adoption decisions” in Children and Youth Services Review, documenting the stability of adoptions by foster parents. Historically, foster parents were prohibited or at least discouraged from adopting assuming it would interfere with reunification. The findings evidence stability because foster parents know the children in their care and often also their birth parents.


Helen Stone, CWLA’s Foster Care Director, and co-founder of the NFPA writes The National Foster Parent Association: The Beginning Years, describing the history of the NFPA from 1967 to 1984.

NFPA enters into an agreement with American Foster Care Resources (AFCR) to produce their newsletter, the Foster Care Journal. This agreement continued through 1992.

IMPACT, The Newsletter of the Foster Parent Education Network features articles titled Foster Parents as Trainers; Evaluation of Training: Factors and Strategies; and the results of the National Survey on Recruitment, Preservice, and Inservice Training Around the Country based on input from two dozen educator/trainers from New Hampshire to California and Florida to Alaska who participated in the 1983 national conference in Norfolk, VA.

Preventing Abuse in Family Foster Care is published by the Eastern Michigan University Institute for the Study of Children and Families and the Social Work Department. Authored by NFPA member Emily Jean McFadden with co-authors Marjorie Siefert and Bennie Stovall, this Instructor’s Manual is funded by the National Center on Abuse and Neglect.



NFPA develops A Public Education Project to assist states and Congress to plan for educational services for children and youth educational needs.

International Foster Care Organization (IFCO) president, Bernard Lernout from Belgium, participates in the NFPA national conference, inviting NFPA members to the next IFCO conferences scheduled for 1985 in New Zealand.


NFPA publishes An Evolutionary Review of Foster Parent’s Roles in the Foster Care System, written by NFPA Board of Directors member Carolyne Rodriguez.

NFPA Publishes a ‘white paper’ on Leadership Training for state foster parent associations.



The Nova Foster Parent Project’s five year report to NIMH documents that foster parents who are recruited, trained, and assessed as team members are more likely to work successfully with the children in their care and more likely to be retained. The idea of foster parents as a resource is affirmed.

NFPA publishes Foster Parents and the IRS – A Workbook for Foster Parents, to assist foster parents in more effectively completing their annual federal tax returns. The value of this publication led to its being updated on an annual basis and available on the NFPA website for support with tax preparation and filing.

The Foster Parent’s Rights to Share in Decision Making for the Foster Child is published by the National Legal Resources Center for Child Advocacy and Protection to assist the NFPA in advocacy efforts on this topic.



Congress passes the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (P.L. 96-272) with the aim to reduce reliance on out-of-home care and encourage use of preventative and reunification services. The law required states to comply with numerous standards designed to improve the system, with the emphasis on foster care as a temporary solution. The NFPA advocates to more effectively support foster families across the country as part of this law.

The NFPA Conference Committee, led by Conference Chair, May Roberts, develops the Conference Planner’s Manual that is shared with state foster parent associations.

CWLA publishes the book, The Challenge of Partnership: Working with Parents of Children in Foster Care, edited by social work professors Tony Maluccio and Paula Singanoglu, with an article by NFPA members Emily Jean McFadden, Patricia Ryan and Bruce Warren titled, “Foster Parents – A Resource for Helping Biological Parents.” This provides the framework for workshops on this topic at subsequent NFPA conferences, and provides a foundation for foster parents as resource parents.

1980s Highlights

1980 – 1982 Harley Mackey (OK)
1983 – 1986 Carl Brown (SC)
1987 – 1990 George Werkmeister (CO)

Executive Directors/Administrators
1980 – 1982 Jacob Sprouse, Jr (VA)

1980 Kansas City, MO Share Love in Heartland USA
1981 Detroit, MI Don’t Let It Rest Until Good Becomes Best
1982 Bismarck, ND Give the Children Back Their Childhood
1983 Norfolk, VA National Focus on Foster Care
1984 Denver, CO Our Tomorrows are Created by What We Reflect Today
1985 Fort Worth, TX Forget Me Not
1986 Wilmington, DE Join the Team that Cares About Kids
1987 Anaheim, CA The Magic of Love
1988 St. Charles, IL Give Someone the Home Advantage
1989 Parsippany, NJ Children and Families: Perfect Together


The NFPA creates the National Advocate, its newsletter to be written and mailed to all NFPA members. It is edited by Gordon Evans, NFPA Board member from Texas with communications expertise.

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Miller v. Youakim that relatives who meet foster home licensing standards are eligible for the same reimbursement as unrelated foster parents. The NFPA begins advocacy endeavors to include relative families.

The Foster Parent Educators Network is created by a group of foster parent trainers and educators who get together at the NFPA national conference in Boston. They initially name themselves the “The 515 Founders” because they meet in that hotel room of two participants from University of Houston Foster Parent Education Project – Sharon Carey and Angie Grindon. Minutes from that first meeting report, “If you believe in energy currents finding one another, then you have the perfect background for the meeting that occurred on April 6, 1979 in Room 515.” Representatives include The Network begins publishing IMPACT, the Newsletter of the Foster Parent Education Network, rotated among Network members and their affiliations. Initial founders include Marc Jacobs from Massachusetts Community College, Eileen Mayers Pasztor from Nova University Foster Parent Project, and Emily Jean McFadden from the Institute for the Study of Children and Families at Eastern Michigan University, Ann Middleton and Joe Moore from CWLA, Christine Jolly from Nebraska Department of Public Welfare, and Sandi Euster from the University of So. Georgia.


The authors of this NFPA Historical Timeline, Irene Clements and Eileen Mayers Pasztor, first meet when the Nova University Foster Parent Project Model is brought to Houston, TX in the process of being shared across the country.


The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) P.L. 96-608 is passed by Congress to help ensure that Native American children would be cared for by their tribes before being sent to white families or what historically had been known as “Indian Boarding Schools.”


National Action for Foster Children, chaired by Raymond McClelland from Wisconsin, names Mrs. J.M. (Marie) Cox, Comanche Tribe in Oklahoma as Outstanding Indian Woman of 1977. Mrs. Cox is one of the principal signers of the Bill of Rights for Foster Children.


U.S. Children’s Bureau funds development of Parenting Plus, produced by the Foster Parent Curriculum Development Project of the Child Welfare League of America, Helen Stone, Director. Topics include “What is Foster Parenting,” “The Foster Child in Our Home,” “Our Foster Child’s Natural Parents,” “Working with the Agency,” “You, the Agency, and the Community” and “Placement.”

NFPA publishes Guidelines for Planning Statewide and National Foster Parent Conferences. These Guidelines are based on the work of a special committee established to develop this important document as planners of state and national conferences strive to provide training/education for caregivers and the staff who work with foster families.

NFPA’s Council of Advisors is expanded “to include foster care representatives from other countries” according to an article in The Foster Parent Reporter, spring issue. The article identifies representatives from Australia, Canada, Japan, and Great Britain whose association was formed in 1974 expanded to 100 local associations. According to Council of Advisors chair Ron Wood from Iowa, “The NFPA seeks to strengthen its advocacy of all children – everywhere.”


A New Partnership: Foster Parent Associations and Liaison Social Workers is written by Jeanne Hunzeker and published by CWLA.

The importance of support for foster parents and foster parent organizations is recognized by the American Public Welfare Association (APWA) in its Standards for Foster Family Services Systems with Guidelines for Implementation Specifically Related to Public Agencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advocates for private child welfare agencies to accept a proportionate share of children of color as, prior to this date, most agencies would accept only white children.


The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) is founded. By a voice vote of 1200 foster parents and social workers attending the Second Annual Foster Parent Conference in Denver, Colorado on May 7, the NFPA, with a Constitution and By-Laws, was created. Participants created caucuses from states in the regional areas of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), now Health and Human Services (HHS) to serve on the Board of Directors. Information in support of the new NFPA would be shared in The Foster Parent Reporter, published by Child Welfare League of America (CWLA).

U.S. Children’s Bureau awards a three-year demonstration project grant to CWLA to official launch the NFPA. Leadership is provided by Beatrice L. Garrett, MSW, Specialist on Foster Family Services, and Helen D. Stone, MSW, CWLA Foster Care Project Director.

As described in the project’s first newsletter, The Foster Parent Reporter, the aim is to keep foster families, states and national leaders up to date on the work of establishing a national foster parent association that would be led by foster parents as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit.

Objectives are to:

  • Help establish the NFPA, with local and state chapters.
  • Assist in the recruitment of additional foster parents.
  • Educate the general public as to the role of foster parenting.
  • Expand and improve methods of training foster parents.
  • Modify methods of education of foster care workers.
  • Operate a national information exchange for foster parent associations and prepare and distribute a newsletter.
  • Publish guidelines for the development of local foster parent associations.
  • Provide consultation as requested for organizational methods, activities, and training.
  • Evaluate and report on the experiences of foster parent associations.
  • Determine if foster parent associations can alter practices and policies considered counter-productive to sound foster care.
  • Identify the need for liability insurance.
  • Identify resources for Native American children in foster care.

Committees are established; officers and ten regional vice presidents are elected; a national director is hired; and a home base in St. Louis, Missouri, is established.


A planning meeting to create the National Foster Parent Association is held in Chicago in May. The majority of 1,000 participants are foster parents, of whom 40% are foster fathers. 21 Indian foster parents from eight agencies participate. Social workers are invited to attend but must be accompanied by a foster parent. All states except Nevada, Idaho, and Alaska have foster parent representation. The Children’s Bureau and the Community Services Administration allocates $17,500 to support conference planning with leadership from the national and Chicago field office. Children’s Bureau awards a grant to the CWLA to draft a constitution and by-laws. Additional objectives include creating a newsletter, helping state and local groups form, providing education opportunities, and improving the image of foster parenting through a “well developed public interpretation program.”


Foster Care in Question: A National Reassessment by 21 Experts, a 275-page document published by the Child Welfare League of America calls attention to foster care issues. One of the 21 experts, Ruby Kennedy, a foster parent from Los Angeles, identifies: strengths and weaknesses of foster care programs, attitudes toward board and care rates, salary for foster parents in addition to room and board, special training for foster parents, community attitudes, and new ways to improve foster care programs.

The Rights of Foster Parents by Beatrice L. Garrett, Specialist on Foster Family Care, Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is published in the agency’s magazine, Children; subscriptions available for $2.00.

1970s Highlights

1972 - 1974 Eugene Glynn (MI)
1975 - 1978 David Evans (MS)
1978 - 1979 Harley Mackey (OK)

Executive Directors/Administrators
1973 Dorothy L. Williams (Coordinating Director)
1979 Jacob Sprouse, Jr.

1971 Chicago, IL Foster Family-Natural Family-Agency (planning conference)
1972 Denver, CO It’s Gonna Happen
1973 Philadelphia, PA Link of Hope
1974 Spokane, WA Love is Not Enough

1975 Atlanta, GA Together for Children
1976 Honolulu, HI Aloha Means Love; Love Means Children
1977 New York, NY Caring and Sharing (also 1st International Conference)
1978 Houston, TX It’s a Small World
1979 Boston, MA Year of the Child


U.S. Children’s Bureau funds the first National Conference on Foster Care in New Orleans. Recommendations include creating a national association of foster parents, addressing recruitment, improving training and education for foster parents, and providing support for state foster parent associations. Helen Stone, Foster Care Project Director and other CWLA provide leadership and support.



U.S. Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), names its first National Specialist on Foster Family Care, selecting Beatrice Garrett, MSW, Executive Director of Child & Family Services in Tennessee. Ms. Garrett holds this position until 1976 during which time she published articles such as the “The Bill of Rights for Foster Children” and “The Foster Child’s Conviction of His Self-Worth.” Ms. Garrett was instrumental in working with colleagues at CWLA and other state foster parent associations to create the National Foster Parent Association and the first nationally federally funded training program for foster parents.


Amendments to the Social Security Act, Titles IVB and XX also make federal money available for foster care/two-tier rate.



National Committee on Employment of Youth is created.



Professional journal articles begin to write about foster care and the role of foster parents begins to be explored. An article in Social Service Review by J. Hanford titled “Child Placement and the Family Agency” asks if foster parents are “colleagues, clients, or something in between?”


Foster care expands with more children now in foster homes than in orphanages.



Fair Labor Standards Act establishes general wage and hour rules for all workers, 16 years of age is minimum for employment in industries.


Aid to Dependent Children as Title IV of the Social Security Act is passed.



The Child Welfare League of America (hereafter CWLA) is created. Convened by 68 representatives of community child serving agencies through the Bureau for Exchange of Information (BEI), $25,000 in start-up funding by the Commonwealth Fund paves the way. Dr. C.C. Carstens is appointed as executive director, holding the position until his death in 1939. H. Ida Curry of State Charities Aid Association of NY is selected as the first president of the Board of Directors. The Russell Sage Foundation provides the location.

20th Century
20th Century


National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) is organized and advocates for laws to prevent child labor.

19th Century
19th Century


Massachusetts recognizes three classes of children who need care:

  • Dependent – products of extreme poverty;
  • Neglected - parents who could but do not take care of them;
  • Juvenile offenders – court related.

The first two are treated the same.


Boarding out – children are placed in foster homes and payments to foster parents are started slowly, and not used much.

Note: this may be where the expression children or families as “placements”comes from, or the ideas that foster parents take children for the money.


Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (created after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - SPCA) begins to appear in eastern cities.


Federal Truancy Act compels parents of children ages 5 – 14 to restrain them or place them in employment and ensure they be sent to school.

1853 – 1930s

Children’s Aid Society is founded by Reverend Charles Loring Brace in New York City to raise the funds for the Orphan Train Movement. The aim is to send thousands of destitute, homeless and orphaned children to “Christian homes” in the Midwest. Later other agencies would follow.

Factors such as race, looks, age, development, handicaps – only “best” children were used.

“Placing out” (Free Foster Home Movement) of children in eastern cities to homes in rural areas begins, instead of being in institutions children live with families and work for their room and board.

Early Years: Before the NFPA
Early Years: Before the NFPA

Early 18th Century

Orphan asylums and almshouses are the nation’s predominant method of caring for dependent children.

* The National Foster Parent Association originally was created to be a resource for foster parents. Over the years, our networking, education, and advocacy expanded to include kinship and adoptive families.

Citation: Clements, I. & Pasztor, E.M. (June 2023). A Timeline of Tradition: National Foster Parent Association’s Decades of Dedication: Networking, Education, and Advocacy.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This