Ronya Faulkner Honored for Adoption Excellence

DCS Training Director Recognized by Department of Health and Human Services
Tuesday, November 09, 2021 | 02:38pm
Ronya Faulkner

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services top training specialist has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the excellence of her service to the state’s children and families.

Ronya Faulkner serves as the department’s director of Training and Professional Development, a role in which she guides and supports staff members and foster families who are determined to provide permanency for children in foster care.

“We’re thrilled by this well-deserved honor for Ronya,” said DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols. “We’re proud of what it says about the trauma-informed work taking place every day at DCS to build better lives for the children and families we serve. This award is a testament to Ronya and our staff who work tirelessly to support our foster families and achieve permanency for Tennessee’s children waiting in foster care.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families has awarded Faulkner with a 2021 Adoption Excellence Award in the category of Individual/Professional Contributions. Faulkner was nominated by the non-profit organization Spaulding for Children “for the many extraordinary professional contributions” she has made throughout her career to promote permanency for foster children.

HHS noted that Faulkner “used innovation and technology to meet the training needs of families in Tennessee, “while recognizing that many families participating in those programs might not have strong tech skills. She “arranged for the development of a computer lab where families could come for technology support.”

The Adoption Excellence Awards honor states, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families making key contributions to increasing the number of children from foster care who are adopted or placed in other permanent homes, according to HHS.

Faulkner brings 27 years of DCS experience to her current role.

“One of my philosophies is we must properly train foster parents by laying down a solid foundation -- to equip them with the appropriate skills to care for children with trauma,”’ Faulkner said. ”We have no option but to be successful in our training with foster parents so they can be impactful with our children and the families. This award would not be possible without our awesome training staff or our wonderful foster parents.”

Last fiscal year, Faulkner and her team trained more than 12,000 foster parents and prospective foster parents, helping to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully build relationships with foster children and provide them with safe and nurturing homes.

Faulkner’s team researches the latest and most effective foster-parenting techniques, then incorporates those into the DCS training curriculum.

“Thankfully, we are more trauma-informed now, so our training allows parents to effectively parent kiddos who have experienced trauma,” said Faulkner.

Faulkner’s team trains foster parents on how to work effectively with birth families as supports and mentors. For those children who are adopted, the DCS trainers prep families about how to make those transitions smoother. And for the youth who age out of foster care, Faulkner’s staff anticipates what a young adult will need if they are heading out into the world on their own -- and how a foster parent can help them prepare.

Faulkner was recognized Tuesday in a National Adoption Month celebration held virtually by the Children’s Bureau and AdoptUSKids for public child welfare agencies across the country. In addition to the presentation of the awards, Tuesday’s celebration highlighted the national adoption campaign “Every Conversation Matters,” which encourages the adoption of older youth from foster care.