Meet the Rawies: The Family Unit That Fosters Together

Specialized Foster Care

Ten years ago, Joe and Michelle Rawie (pronounced Roy) made a life-changing decision to open their hearts and home to children with special needs. Their volunteer work with Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) sparked their passion for helping individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and drove their decision to become trained and licensed foster parents through Lakemary’s Specialized Foster Care program.

Specialized Foster Care differs slightly from traditional foster care in that it provides a safe environment and living situation for youth (ages 5-21) with intellectual/developmental disabilities. These children cannot live with their biological family due to safety concerns or other family challenges, so they are matched with foster families who can provide an elevated level of care and understanding that is imperative for a child with special needs. Foster parents work closely with case managers, therapists, biological family members, and guardians to ensure that the best interests of the child are being met.

Of the more than 428,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, about half have a chronic disability. These youth need help from caring individuals, just like the Rawies, who understand their complex medical and educational needs, and can provide a safe, nurturing environment.

Since becoming foster parents, Joe and Michelle’s biological children have followed in their footsteps to help children with special needs. One child is also licensed and caring for a child in their home, and all have provided respite care when needed.

Currently, Joe and Michelle care for two boys who are served by Lakemary. Hunter and Robert have lived with the Rawies for a number of years now. Both have overcome great challenges and matured and grown into wonderful young men.

Watch this video to learn more!

Browse our website to learn more about our Specialized Foster Care program. You can also contact Jodi Rivera, Foster Care Coordinator, at (913) 416-1146 or jodi.rivera@lakemary.org.