Champs of children named for county

As foster parents, Nancy Wolfe and Dale Wolfe have always felt strongly about improving the lives of
foster children.
After caring for over 250 children in their Delta home since 1986, with 25 to 30 from Wood County, and
advocating for the rights of foster children at the state level, the couple was presented with the
Champion of Children Award by the Wood County Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem
“It really felt good to Dale and I,” Nancy Wolfe said. “I felt especially good to have the advocacy
recognized. It was just nice that somebody noticed our work.”
The Friends of Wood County CASA organization gives the award annually to those who act on behalf of
children who are victims of abuse, neglect or dependency, said Carol Fox, director of the Wood County
CASA/GAL program, who recommended the Wolfes for the award.
The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond their everyday responsibilities, she
“My recommendation was based on our knowledge of what they’ve done for our youth. Whenever we’ve called
them they’ve been very supportive and totally involved,” Fox said. “One of our youth in their care had
an amazing transition into their home and is really thriving. It’s phenomenal what they’re doing.”
The Wolfes realized they wanted to care for foster children when they were in graduate school in Kansas,
Dale Wolfe said.
Dale Wolfe studied Special Education and Human Development while Nancy Wolfe studied Social Work;
together they decided to run a group home.
When the Treatment Foster Care Standards were written for Ohio, Nancy Wolfe served on the state
committee, she said.
She has since served on a Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center project to review the state
residential and foster care rules and stresses the importance of self-advocacy to the boys in her home,
helping them become involved in the Regional and State Youth Advocacy Board, which promotes change to
the foster care system, she said.
“We were inspired to help. We just wanted to do good things for kids,” she said. “We were disappointed in
how teens were treated in the system. Instead of understanding they were victims, too, they’d see them
as mean, that it’s their own fault. People blamed the teens.”
The Wolfe’s “family style” home accepts boys between the ages of 12 to 18 to teach them how to live in a
family, problem solving skills, anger management, how to develop social skills and “all the basic things
we need as adults,” Nancy Wolfe said.
But that doesn’t mean the Wolfe home is all work and no play.
“Kids should also get to be kids … be silly, ride bikes, jump around and be goofy. They’re not mini
adults, they’re not in the military,” she said. “There’s time to learn and there’s time to play.”
Dale Wolfe agrees.
“I don’t want to regiment the place, it doesn’t do much for the kids. We’ve let them be themselves pretty
much,” he said.
One of the boys, David, 17, is doing well at the home since arriving over a year ago, he said.
“This is a better place than where I’ve been. There wasn’t much freedom (at the other places). They’ve
helped me a lot,” he said.
Nancy Wolfe’s recent push for change on the state level to “normalize” the lives of foster children will
directly impact David and children like him this summer.
“There were issues getting driver’s licenses. Without them, how are (the kids) supposed to get a job?
They’re automatically more likely to be homeless and unemployed without a driver’s license,” she said.

“Wood County has been very progressive on this and is paying for driver’s education. David will be taking
it this summer. I just think it’s long overdue.”
An outdoorsy, animal loving, active person, David is able to play with the five dogs and 14 cats that
roam the Wolfe home and grounds in the woods, Nancy Wolfe said.
When a boy moves into the Wolfe home, the couple gets to know them and ask about their hobbies and what
they’re interested in.
They include these things in a list of what the boys can earn to motivate them to do well in school and
in life.
“Kids argue, swear and don’t do homework, so we work on these kinds of things. When we see success, we
reward it and they earn privileges like playing video games, going to the movies, swimming, gardening
and trips to car shows and Cedar Point,” Dale Wolfe said. “They’ve always got something they’re working
toward. There’s no time better than the teenage years to start on that.”
To help those who have moved on from their care but have limited resources, the Wolfes bought an
independent living apartment in Napoleon so their charges can live in a safe, low cost place as they
transition into full-time employment or college life.
“Where do they go with no family support? If there’s no one else when they turn 18, they can go there,
get help from Social Security, whatever it takes so they can live independently but still have that
connection to us, that help if they need it,” Nancy Wolfe said.
The Wolfes also invite their former foster children over to their home for Thanksgiving and other
holidays if they don’t have a family to celebrate with.
“I’ve never felt we should force the kids to think of us as mom and dad. Most of them have family and are
bonded to them. It’s not right for me to say you no longer have a family because we’re your family,”
Nancy Wolfe said.
“The families we’re the most successful with have the boys completely and totally reintegrated. That’s
the best connection they can have and they don’t need us anymore. We act as more of an extended family
for them,” she said.
In the meantime, the Wolfes do everything they can to create a safe, productive, fun home for their boys.

“The most important thing I can do is create happy memories for them, because a lot of them don’t have
many,” she said. “I want there to be more fun than bad.”