Former First Lady Dianne Bentley and former foster child speak on the importance of foster parents

Elements of Foster Care Event

BIRMINGHAM - On Monday, May 9, 2016, at the McWane Center, Gateway hosted “The Elements of Foster Care” to recognize its 106 foster parents and to recruit 94 more therapeutic foster homes. Featured speakers were Alabama’s former First Lady Dianne Bentley and former Gateway foster youth Tracy Haynes.

As an adoptive mother and powerful advocate for strong families, Bentley extended words of encouragement and advice to Gateway’s foster parents:

“Our children are looking at the most frightening present and future any American generation has ever faced. Just look at what happens on television or even in their own homes. Today more than ever our children need all the encouragement we can give them, and we can encourage them with positive, focused attention. Seek their potential instead of their problems.”

Tracy Haynes validated the importance of acknowledging foster children’s potential:

“One day I told my foster parent, ‘I can’t.’ He said to remove that word out of my head and replace it with “’I can,’ and he was right. I can do anything. I’m the product of great foster parents. They knew I had potential, and it took the right people to pull that out of me.”

Haynes’ former foster parents Arthur & Pat Cockrell along with Walter & Shirley Parker were recognized as Gateway’s Foster Parents of the Year.

While the foster parent’s enjoyed a banquet, more than 100 children in therapeutic foster care explored McWane’s ScienceQuest exhibit with Gateway staff, junior board members, and community volunteers. This was the first time visiting the McWane Center for many of the kids.

“Do we really have to leave, mom?” one foster child asked as the event came to a close. He was relieved to find out McWane gave every Gateway family tickets for future visits. Other community partners to contribute foster parent gifts were Publix, Hoffman Media, Birmingham Zoo, DeSoto Caverns, Chick-Fil-A, Tazikis, Vulcan, Splash Adventure, Civil Rights Museum and Dream Land.

After leading various agencies in many states, Gateway President and CEO Kate O'Day explains why the agency's therapeutic foster care program is able to positively shape the lives of children in crisis: 

"Gateway's Therapeutic Foster Care program is truly unique. We have a strong community of dedicated foster parents who are fully committed to the growth and development of the children in their care. Each and every day, they are changing lives for the better - forever."

Gateway has reached the halfway mark toward its goal of finding #200HomesFor200Kids, however 94 children need foster parents willing to give them a sense of belonging. Gateway supports therapeutic foster parents with training, various living expenses and in-home counseling, while the children are able to live in stable, loving households.

If you are interested in becoming a therapeutic foster parent or want to find more information, go towww.gway.org, email fosterparents@gway.org or call 205-510-2755.



Gateway believes strong families are the building blocks of stronger communities, and we carry Birmingham’s longest track record of positive influence as the city’s oldest social services agency. By partnering with families, we support their development and restore their pathways to wholeness through therapeutic foster care, family counseling, financial coaching and crisis intervention.


1401 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205
Gateway Family Resource Center
Fax: 205-510-2621