Office Moms & Dads, a nonprofit organization, is a community of qualified volunteers partnering with child welfare offices to provide a nurturing environment for children entering foster care.
Our volunteers keep children occupied and safe while social workers work behind the scenes to arrange for their long term care, often having conversations not suited for children’s ears.
We fill little bellies that may not have eaten in some time, bring tissues where there are tears, and put stuffies in the arms of kids who have had everything taken from them.
Office Moms & Dads’ 5-year vision is to establish and sustain sites throughout Washington and Idaho where children entering care transition with minimal trauma into their foster care placement.
Our dream, while growing thoughtfully and sustainably, is to establish a presence in all 50 states.
We value children. We value communities collaborating on their behalf. We value awareness about foster care. We think that minimizing trauma is key, and so aim to meet the immediate needs of the vulnerable children we serve. We believe in relationships, and seek to steward those through purposeful transparency with our volunteers, social workers, partners and donors. We value the differences that make each of us unique individuals and seek to maintain a respectful and inclusive environment for all volunteers, staff and the people we serve.
How OMD went from an idea to an organization
In 2013, foster parent and co-founder, Sarah Desjarlais was attending a meeting at the child welfare office in Vancouver, Washington. During that meeting she witnessed a little boy sitting alone in a conference room. The meal and box of toys his social worker had provided were sitting untouched on the table. This 9 year old boy was alone, in every sense of the word. His social worker sat across the hall in a cubicle, feverishly working the phone, trying to find a place he could call home. How could she give a child who has just endured trauma the attention and comfort he needed and deserved while dealing with endless paperwork and phone calls? The need for a caring companion - an Office Mom or Office Dad - was clear. A conversation with CPS supervisor Kim Karu followed, and the two women founded Office Moms & Dads together - using a mother's intuition and a social worker's know-how. The simple notion that community members could provide a soft landing to children entering foster care has since turned into a movement. What started with 5 volunteers in one office, has now spread to over 500 volunteers in 27 offices and counting.
Sarah Desjarlais has always had a deep commitment to social justice. She began her professional career as a Community Involvement Specialist for a local coffee shop and quickly fell in love with giving back to her community.
Recruited by a local engineering firm to work as their Public Involvement Coordinator, Sarah obtained skills that she would later carry over into the founding and creating of Office Moms & Dads.
Sarah and her husband, an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree tribe, began their journey as foster parents in 2009 when, in a whirlwind of providential circumstances, they took placement of two sweet babies. Now, years later they have had the great privilege of adopting three of their five children through foster care. Sarah continues to provide respite to local foster families while staying attuned to the unique needs of the Clark County DCYF office.
In balancing the duties of Executive Director for Office Moms & Dads and the rigors of raising five kids, Sarah enjoys sewing, cooking, and walking the beautiful streets of her downtown community.
Amie McKey grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to the Pacific Northwest 14 years ago. The first time she visited Vancouver, Washington with her husband, she knew this is where she wanted to plant roots and raise her growing family.
As a primary nurse to a child who needed foster care she soon filled out an application and became a foster parent. She specializes in drug affected babies and continue to foster to this day. She has wore many hats in the foster care world, She has been a resource peer mentor (RPM) as well as a PRIDE Co-Trainer and currently sits on the Citizen Review Panel (CRP) in Idaho. Soon she is adopting her sixth child from foster care and she also has 2 biological sons. She went on to school and earned her masters degree in Nurse Education and taught at a college level for several years. Cindy now is pursuing a family nurse practitioners degree and hopes to use it to help kids who are in the foster care system. She heard about the Office Moms and Dad’s program through an informational meeting and joined the Caldwell office team. Later she helped start the Boise Office Moms & Dad’s program as a volunteer coordinator.
I’m a native Oregonian, transplanted to Vancouver in 1980. I’m a mom and a Nana to a fantastic family located from Vancouver to West Virginia. I am also a dog mom to Winny the Pug. I recently retired following 32 years of Federal government service, as a program analyst.
Organization, attention to details, and building relationships with others in the agency were key skills to successfully providing information needs to our organization.
I joined OMD as an Office Mom in 2014. Sarah Desjarlais, a co-founder, and I attended the same church so I’d heard about the program from its beginning and was excited to participate in caring for the kids. In 2016, I became the Vancouver Volunteer Coordinator. I believe in the mission of caring for the children entering foster care and creating more time for the social workers engaged in helping them; this makes it easy to help recruit new volunteers!
Marleen heard about Office Moms & Dads through her local church, and realized there was not a program in Shelton. She became the Volunteer Coordinator and OMD Shelton launched in January 2017.
As a result of seeing the overwhelming need for more foster homes and more support for existing foster families, she left her position teaching preschoolers to focus on building community support to foster kids and families. It’s encouraging to see the community stepping up to serve our kids!
Marleen and her husband are almost empty nesters! They have four children; their two oldest sons have moved into their adult lives and they have two high school kids remaining at home. They enjoy playing games, hiking, sharing meals, and trips to the ocean.
What & Why
OMD is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in Vancouver, Washington (USA) in 2013. OMD deploys qualified volunteers to child welfare offices throughout Washington and Idaho who sit with and entertain children who have just been removed from their homes - children who have undergone unspeakable trauma. Our volunteers serve in their local child welfare office on an on-call basis, and strive to make the day just a little bit better for both child and social worker.
The average child can wait in a child welfare office anywhere from three to five hours after being taken into protective custody. Meanwhile, social workers frantically search for a suitable foster home or relative to care for them. The wait after a removal can be one of the most frightening and uncertain times in a child’s life. Our volunteers help alleviate stress on social workers, care for the immediate needs of the child, and serve the foster care community in a tangible way. The time commitment for volunteers is flexible, but the impact is monumental.