To the community of Omega, Lamar Burkett is known as the Pastor of Bridge Creek, Primitive Baptist Church. But to 26 foster kids, he has been known as “dad.” Together with his wife, Valerie, Lamar is known for his contributions to the foster care system – including being an adoptive parent for nearly four decades and a foster parent for the last 20 years. Lamar and Valerie have served as a shining light in the lives of dozens of Georgia children with nowhere else to go.
When asked about the challenges he and his wife have faced, Lamar is quick to focus on the positive, pointing to one child who now works in the criminal justice system, another who is an outstanding football player, and several who have successfully shown livestock in local competitions.
Lamar credits a good part of his foster parenting success to the support of the licensed clinician that Amerigroup provides for every child in the Georgia Families 360 program which includes all youth in foster care, adoption assistance youth and select youth committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Working side by side with Lamar and his wife, the social worker serves as the link between the family and the foster care system; advocating for the needs of each child and securing all the support they need; from behavioral health services to dentistry.
He recalls a time when two of his foster children needed to have their wisdom teeth removed. Lamar struggled to find a covered dental surgeon in the area and was wary to schedule something far away that would necessitate a long, uncomfortable post-op ride home for the two fresh-from-surgery teens. He then thought to reach out to Amerigroup who did some quick research and were able to connect him with a local provider.
In addition to fostering more than two dozen children, adopting eight of them, and acting as guardian for two others, Lamar serves as President of the local Foster Parent Association and has served on the board of the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia and served on the Governor’s Child Welfare Committee.
When it comes to the resources and assistance that Amerigroup has to offer, Lamar has been unequivocal. “All the resources a foster parent could need are there – even as the state and the system has changed over the years, they have been able to provide things we just didn’t have through Medicaid alone. I am so grateful for the support offered me as a parent and look forward to getting these much needed resources to other foster parents through my work on our local Foster Parent Association as well as on the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia.”