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Lifetime Achievement Award – 2016 – Bernadine Birchall

There are many people in this world that do incredible things everyday, who go unrecognized. Bernadine Birchall is one of them.
Bernadine has over 25 years of fostering experience, and she has provided a home to over 200 children while providing for her own 3
natural children. Taking care of so many children over the years seems like an in credible achievement but it’s the circumstances in which she has done this is truly amazing…
In 1996 Bernadine her 1st dear husband Craig to cancer. Without many family members to call on for support she decided to raise
her own children single handedly, in addition to providing a home for 4 foster children. Through providing for so many children there were certainly man y challenging time for the Birchall family including the emotional, and financial aspects of the commitment Bernadine had made. When many would have given up, she managed to persevere, always remaining positive, happy and upbeat, regardless of what obstacles she faced in life. Having had a challenging upbringing similar to many of the foster children, Bernadine still doesn’t know where her drive comes from. We believe it comes from the simple focus on the one thing she has always mentioned…It’s that she simply wanted each child to have the experience of what being in a loving home was like.Hopefully providing a positive point of reference for their future decisions. After 25 years Bernadine has spent most of her life fostering, sacrificing her own wants and needs to help others, her children, and her community. Bernadine became interested in developing her skills to care for children with special needs and the their challenges and worked her way through to become a Treatment Level foster home for the Durham CAS She
has learned to manage the many challenging behaviours children exhibit, learned how to advocate for their educational needs with the system, supported children through therapy. Bernie has worked with many biological families in teaching them management skills, and understanding their needs, how to have successful visits and relationships. She has been a strong advocate for foster parents as an active member of the Durham Foster Parent Association. She has been involved in advocating for services to assist foster families and children within our organization, for training and development.