Foster Parents Recognized for Taking in Most Vulnerable Children

January 8, 2019
Family Silhouette

Dave Keating will be remembered through the hundreds of children he and his wife fostered over a 30 year period.

For over 30 years Dave and Denise Keating welcomed hundreds of foster children into their home in Enumclaw.

They treated each child as if they were their own and adopted, became legal guardians, and created lifetime bonds with many of the children that came through their doors. 

Jason Pollock, a social worker who has worked with the family for over four years, says he witnessed time and time again, the Keating’s going above and beyond for many of Washington’s high-needs foster children. 

In 2008, the Keating’s were asked if they would care for a medically-fragile youth over the weekend. Not only did the child - who was diagnosed with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy and 10-years-old at the time - stay with the Keating’s that weekend, he was part of their household until right before his 21st birthday.  

“All of the children in the home have some level of special needs,” explained Pollock. “The Keating’s have gone well beyond anything that could have been expected of them as caregivers.”

This was not out of the ordinary for the Keating’s. The couple served as an advocate for their kids at schools and with providers, they participated in the Special Olympics, kept their children engaged with their peers and birth families, and worked closely with the Children’s Hospital to do whatever was necessary to improve the quality of life for their kids. 

Connie Lambert-Eckel, Assistant Secretary of Child Welfare Field Operations at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, recognized the couple for their caring and compassionate work in a letter she sent to them on Dec. 10.

“To quietly and lovingly care for many special needs children, who need us the very most, is what Dave and Denise Keating so beautifully demonstrated in their over 30 years of devotion for all of the children who came into their lives,” Lambert-Eckel said.

“We respect and honor their commitment to children.”

The recognition was bittersweet. Dave Keating, 59, passed away on Dec. 11 in his home, surrounded by his loved ones. 

“While we lost Dave Keating all too soon this year his legacy of profound caring and commitment to children, especially those children with special needs, will live on through his loving wife Denise and all the children they loved, protected and nurtured in the past 30 plus years,” said Lambert-Eckel.

Often the assumption is that there are not enough foster parents in the state of Washington, while more foster parents could increase placements, the need is greater for children with special needs, behavioral issues, and children of color. 

Lambert-Eckel urges people across the state to become foster parents, especially if they can look beyond the challenges and put extra effort into the heart of a child in need by offering love, care, and support.  

“Denise and Dave Keating personified this way of serving as loving and devoted foster parents for over 30 years,” she said. “We at the DCYF are eternally grateful to Dave and Denise.”