A couple from Ventura County has been nationally recognized for outstanding work as foster parents
Jacqueline and David Mesa are among just 22 people nationwide to receive a 2022 Quality Parenting Award as resource parents.
Jacqueline Mesa and her husband Daniel have two educational toy tables set up in their Port Hueneme home.
A cabinet full of drinking cups and bottles is labelled by age.
They are foster parents – or a resource family, as they’re also known – on stand-by to provide emergency care for babies – from newborn to 24 months.
"I love babies and we get them from the NICU or fresh out of the hospital," she told KCLU.
"We've been called, 'Come to the hospital today there's a baby being discharged today, come by 5 o'clock.'"
Mesa explained that sometimes the babies are shaking after being born to a parent who was using drugs, "it's terrible to witness," she said.
They have fostered 7 children in the past 3 years – and have now been recognized with a national award from the Quality Parenting Initiative.
Brandy Hudson from QPI explains what led them to be one of just 22 people nationwide to be honored by the organization.
"The way that they go about working with birth families and showing up for children as resource parents, and really understanding the best way to be a resource to children is to support their parents," she told KCLU.
She said they really went "above and beyond," to "foster the family, not just the children in their care."
It’s nice to be recognized but that’s not why they do it, said Jacqueline.
"We are humble, we didn't expect it," she said.
They say their aim is supporting the birth parent and child toward reunification.
"When my husband and I decided to do this, we at first were thinking of ourselves as we heard that people foster to adopt," she said.
She continued, "But as we went on to meet the families and I noticed with the mothers - I could help them and my husband could help the father.
"We want the families to reunite. I'd notice the babies bond with the father and bond with the mother, they'd come over to our home because it was during COVID. It was beautiful.
"At first the parents thought they were going to lose their child.
"So now I'm thinking we are doing it for the baby," she said.
"But in the long run, when you see the mom and dad - how successful they are now - you know you want to do it for the parents.
So it's like a team effort," she said.
And they have even continued to be god-parents to two of the babies they’ve fostered.