The Mid-Shore Departments of Social Services recently sponsored a day-long conference at Chesapeake College designed to help resource (foster) parents learn strategies for building on family strengths and develop an expertise for readying foster teens for adulthood.
Keynote speaker Sydney Harrison, a former foster and adopted youth, talked about the loving guidance he received from his adoptive parents, who taught him about the power of love and compassion and helped him re-establish a relationship with his birth mother. In addressing 125 foster and adoptive parents in the room, Harrison said, “Each and every child has a beautiful light and something to offer this world. It is up to each and every one of you to bring this out in them.”
Conference workshops included social media safety, confronting conflict, mental health issues, and human trafficking of children and teens. A workshop titled “Ready by 21: The Future of Our Teens,” equipped resource parents with strategies to better prepare foster teens for independent living and adulthood. Ready by 21 is a statewide initiative of the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) to connect foster youth age 14 to 21 with services and resources to ensure when they leave foster care they have stable housing, a job or are in school, health care, positive credit, and a mentor. To accomplish these goals, DHR and the mid-shore counties have started several new initiatives:
Thrive@25: DHR, in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Social Work, secured a federal planning grant to develop an intervention for foster youth at-risk of homelessness in five Eastern Shore counties and evaluate the RB21 framework. The initiative launched in January 2014.
Open Table: This initiative connects volunteer mentors from local churches with transitioning foster care youth to help them develop positive relationships and build a sense of community. Six tables have been formed in less than a year.
There is a continued need in the Mid-shore area for additional foster families. For convenience, training is provided throughout the region. For further information about becoming a foster parent, call Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-820-7371.
Photo #1: Pictured left to right are attendees of the Mid Shore Departments of Social Services Annual Resource Parent Conference at Chesapeake College, Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, Talbot County Department of Social Services, keynote speaker, Sydney Harrison, a society leader and former foster and adopted youth, and Joan Wharton, Maryland Resource Parent Association.
Photo #2: Talbot County foster parents attended the Mid Shore Departments of Social Services Annual Resource Parent Conference at Chesapeake College. Pictured back row, left to right, are Greg Taney, Christina Taney, Kathy Jenkins, Susan Guffey, Emprin Wilson, Tyron Wilson, Chris Chansler, and Wanda Ball-Gross. Pictured bottom row, left to right, are George Wright, Glenda Dawson, Jodi Davis, Bob Davis, Robert Gladney and Tina Malara.