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2011 Most Influential Women Honoree: Laura Farmer

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Laura Farmer is in the business of caring for children, and since May 2010, she has worked as the southwest regional director of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri, which assists children and families through birth parent counseling, foster care and adoption services.  

In the 17 months since Farmer took her post at LFCS, she has helped to grow the Springfield Partners Program, which has a contract with the state of Missouri to provide foster care management for children in the system, and to recruit and train foster and adoptive parents.

The partnership, which comprises Alternative Opportunities Inc., Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Good Samaritan Boys Ranch and LFCS, was four years old when Farmer came on the scene, but it had only seven families set up to receive foster children through the program.

“I knew something had to change,” says Farmer, who began to implement monthly informational meetings and has since recruited 40 foster families. There’s a waiting list of 30 more to receive foster parent training to become licensed.

In November 2010, Farmer helped host Celebrating Adoption, an event for foster and adoptive families as well as local legislators, to increase awareness about child abuse and neglect.

Marilyn Nolan, CEO of Alternative Opportunities, says Farmer is a great example of a strong collaborator.

“She is professional, poised, communicative and truly dedicated to positive outcomes for the children in our care, as well as the children in our region,” Nolan says. “Effective community collaboration can and will positively impact our children’s future, and Laura both leads and works tirelessly to assure an efficient and effective system for children’s services.”

Farmer earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and previously worked as the assistant regional director for the Missouri Alliance for Children and Families in Springfield. She is dedicated to increasing community response to child abuse and neglect, meeting often with churches and civic groups to make sure they understand the prevalence of those problems in the Ozarks and to showcase the need for a community-developed plan of action.

Among the programs LFCS has in place to help is Women in Need Growing Stronger, or WINGS, which counsels women facing unplanned pregnancies to create healthy home environments for their babies.

“I have a passion for the children and families I get the opportunity to work with, as well as the employees I supervise,” Farmer says. “To me, leadership and influence is all about loving what you do on a daily basis – and I love what I do.”

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Most Influential Women.
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