Gov Noem Proclaims May Foster Care Appreciation Month

Article Body

SIOUX FALLS - Sara Jo Kegler rattles off the list of accomplishments like a proud mom – honor roll, basketball and track teams, youth group and now high school graduate, but her son, Garry Crowe, is quick to give credit where he thinks it belongs.

“Everything mom brags about with me, it’s all come from her,” said the 18-year-old Crowe, who first met Kegler when he was placed as a foster child in her home when he was 12-years-old. “She introduced goals. She had expectations and consistency with the discipline. She showed me what it meant to be a family man.”

Governor Kristi Noem has named May as Foster Parent Appreciation Month to recognize individuals like Kegler who have stepped forward to help provide care, stability, and permanency for South Dakota children. Governor Noem’s Stronger Families Together initiative has licensed more than 670 new families since it started in 2021. There are more than 800 foster families in the state.

Kegler wasn’t looking for a forever family, but found one in Crowe and later his biological brother, Dustin. Kegler’s start as a foster parent began when a friend approached her and thought she’d be a good fit. Crowe was her very first placement. The bond between eventual mom and son happened quick, and was cemented with a Mother’s Day card Crowe made for Kegler in which he called her ‘mom.’

“We really connected right away,” Crowe said.” She talked to me about what it meant to be respectful. She helped me set goals.”

The structure and stability was what Crowe said he needed. It was also needed for Dustin, who joined the family when he was 11 from the group home he was living in. Kegler adopted both boys about two years ago, when Crowe was 16 and Dustin was 13.

“You could just tell the potential there and the heart,” Kegler said. “I need to let them how what’s possible; let (them) know breaking the cycle and how important that is.”

Crowe has done just that. He’s headed off to the University of Minnesota in the fall and hopes to study psychiatry. Crowe said many of his biological family members have experienced mental health challenges, which drew him to that field.

“The motivation factor is huge,” he said. “I have a lot of big goals. That’s my biggest motivator – being bigger than what I’ve seen and knowing my potential.”

He also is committed to help with all his brothers and sisters. There are nine total. While they don’t all live together, Kegler said she’s made sure to foster those relationships.

“My goal is to help raise them by leading by example,” Crowe said. “I never grew up with a role model until I met (mom), someone to teach me right and wrong. I want them to have that and have made it my goal.”

The journey hasn’t always been easy, Kegler said, but the behavioral health therapist has provided a loving home where faith takes priority, art work hangs on the walls and love is abundant.

“There’s a transition in letting them make choices on their own,” Kegler said. “Getting them to that point can be hard, but when they do make mistakes, you’re still here and you still love them.”

Visit to learn more about becoming a foster parent or to find out how you can help foster families.


The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening families to foster health, wellbeing, and independence. For more information, please visit