Therapeutic Foster Care at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

iconPat Neal Shares Her Foster Parenting Story

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She wears no decorations or medals; sheís quiet and unassuming in her nursing scrubs, but there is no question that Pat Neal is exceptional. For 13 years, Pat has been going above and beyond every day, as a therapeutic foster parent in Kennedy Kriegerís Therapeutic Foster Care program.

holding handsShe shines when she talks about her kids, waving away praise for the important role she plays.

"Even the smallest thing you can do to help a kid is," she pauses, "itís something bigger. A hug, a smile, a touch, a kind word."

Pat has fostered children with a variety of developmental disabilities and disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and posttraumatic stress syndrome.

She doesnít gloss over the struggles that are inherent in therapeutic foster care parenting.

"At first it was frightening," says Pat. "But you learn from experience. No childís the same." She describes some of the difficulties she had, particularly with a young boy she took in - heís now a teenager and still living with her. "He was a handful," she admits, "But Iím glad I hung in there. Heís really grown into a nice young man."

That nice young man recently reconnected with his biological mother and Pat has been there every step of the way to support him in an extremely emotional and sometimes difficult time.

Though Pat doesnít brag about it, her dedication and love for her foster children has helped them lead fuller lives.

"It makes me feel that I have made a difference," explains Pat, "to make it better for kids." She smiles and adds, "I think it was my calling."

How to Contact Us

For more information on how you can make a difference in the life of a child by getting involved with the Therapeutic Foster Care program, please call Nikole Satemajer at 443.923.3821 or email

topTopFor more information, please call 443-923-3811