Foster kids' art in the spotlight at Waterford Country School

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Wed., May. 25, 2011
Waterford Country School Principal Sharon Butcher and Samantha Teel admire works at the school's annual art show. Contributed photos by Pietro Camardella. - Contributed Photo

Waterford Country School in Norwich marked Foster Care Awareness Month with its annual art show May 20. Paintings, sculpture and multi-media artworks by foster care and adopted children filled the halls of the Clinic Drive offices, along with a mural where visitors could leave their thoughts, a small drawing or just a signature.

Along with the art exhibit, presentations of various viewpoints on foster care were offered at the event.

One of the show's participating artists, Dashmaris “Dash” Lugo, offered her insights into her life as a foster teen.

“Waterford Country School is like a family,” said Dash. “I’ve been involved in foster care for 13 years, in more programs than I can count. I've done it all. But now I'm achieving my goal of graduating from high school and going on to college,” she said. “I don't even think of the Bishops as my foster parents. I've always called them Mom and Dad.”

“Kids just need to feel grounded, to know someone is there for them” said WCS foster parent Bob Thomas, who, along with his wife, Michelle, gave a presentation on their experiences as foster parents.

Foster care recruiter Elena French said that WCS has served local families since 1922 with a number of programs, including residential housing, experiential education, shelters, a safe house and group homes. The school's foster care program is headquartered in Norwich and currently has 72 approved foster homes caring for 61 therapeutic foster children and teens, she said.

WCS works hand-in-hand with the state Department of Children and Families and other private therapeutic agencies, French said.

WCS is offering daytime training sessions for prospective foster parents on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting July 12, said French. To become a licensed foster parent, applicants must be at least 21 years of age and pass a background check. They may be married or single.

French said that potential foster parents need not own their own home or be heterosexual. They must, however, have enough room in their home for a child to have his or her own space.

For more information, or to register for training, call Elena French at 860-886-7500 ext. 170. The agency's website is

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