SHERIDAN — Tracy Jones began her career with children working at a pediatric office off and on for several years.
After seeing families and kids in crisis, Jones decided she wanted to begin fostering children.
“I just remember thinking one day, someone needs to do something about that kid or that family, and I’m somebody; I can do something,” Jones said. “That’s where it started.”
Since then, Jones and her husband, along with their four biological kids and one adopted son, helped raise approximately 80 foster children.
If raising five of her own children plus nearly 80 others was not enough, Jones also teaches parenting classes. She started at the Child Development Center after reluctantly agreeing to the task in an interview for a position at the nonprofit organization.
“It’s turned out to be a passion,” Jones said. “I love it.”
When funding was cut for the parenting classes at the CDC, Jones continued to teach parents independently.
Eventually, Compass Center for Families started supporting Jones’ parenting classes and now offers intensive parenting classes for those who find themselves in court and at risk of having children removed from their home.
In addition to troubled families, Jones said her particular favorite class, called “Love and Logic,” applies to any parent wanting to improve their parenting experience.
“It’s got a real focus on building and maintain a relationship,” Jones said. “In all my years of working in child-related areas and various places, I see so many families that are miserable because their parenting experience is not happy.”
Jones said all socio-economic groups can struggle with parenting and benefit from classes.
“It just thrills my heart to be able to help families be able to do something a little bit different that makes their parenting experience smoother and more rewarding,” Jones said.
Jones’ work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It was so easy (to choose her as the recipient for the Champion for Children award),” said Susan Carr, the executive director for Compass Center for Families. “She is so amazing. She has a long history of working with children, from being a nurse for and also being a parent educator for the past 25 years.”
Carr said Jones specializes in helping parents become the parents they always dreamed of being.
“(Compass is) blessed to have her on our team to work with our families,” Carr said.
Jones’ passion for children and heart for the foster program stems directly from her faith.
“God gave us grace and he gave us forgiveness and love even when we didn’t deserve it and everybody needs that,” Jones said. “We are all walking wounded. Some just have a lot bigger wounds and bigger scars than others.”
Jones officially hung up her hat as a foster mom in March, when her last foster daughter left the house after turning 18. While Jones will not take in any new foster children, she said her role as a foster parent continues past each child’s 18th birthday.
“Once they turn 18, the issues don’t stop,” Jones said. “That’s one of the hard things with the foster care system. Kids that are in foster care, not all of them, but a lot of them once they turn 18, they don’t have a really good support system.”
Her family still keeps in touch with some of their foster children, providing a family for those who have none.
“There are just so many kids who just need somebody to be able to love them unconditionally even when they are making horrible choices and doing things that aren’t acceptable,” Jones said of foster parenting. “Somebody needs to love them and often the kids that are the most unlovable are the ones that need it the most. They need that the most. It’s not easy.”
Jones will be honored at the Light of Hope Breakfast on April 28 as the ninth Champion for Children. Earning the honor before here were Tom Racette, Judge John Fenn, Pam Emerson, the entire CDC Region 2 agency, Reta Onstott, Barb Pruett, Jay McGinnis and Mitch Craft. Reserve your seat for the breakfast by contacting Tifany at 675-2272 or email@example.com.