A simple act of kindness decades ago has gone on to change lives for Iowa youth in foster care.
David Steele remembers the police officer he met after he ran away from home at age 13. The officer treated him kindly and made David feel like there was someone in his corner. That’s the same feeling David wants to provide for Iowa children today.
“The things he did stuck with me and guided the direction I wanted my life to take,” David says. “My background helps me understand the troubles kids in foster care go through.”
David and his wife, Jackie, wanted to be there for children in need, so they decided to become licensed foster parents and have welcomed more than 20 teenage boys into their home.
Over the past 15 years, the Steeles have welcomed a diverse group of teens from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Because no matter who is living in their home, David and Jackie want each of them to know their voice is heard.
“It’s important for us to let them understand they have a voice,” David says. “We celebrate them as individuals. Do I want purple hair? No. But for a child staying with us? That might be his preference! It’s my job to support, not to judge.”
David enjoys fostering older youth to help them take their first steps into adulthood, like setting up their first bank account, finding a job or apartment, and seeing them walk across the stage at their high school graduation.
In addition to spending time with their biological family, which includes four children, 17 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, David and Jackie stay in touch with many of the individuals they have fostered over the years.
“We foster because it gives kids the tools they need for when they go back home,” David says. “You have to be a strong person to foster. But once you see one of the kids succeed, it’ll bring tears to your eyes, and it’s all worth it.”