Talbot County Physician Brings Unique Perspective To Caring For Foster Children

EASTON, MD – May was National Foster Care Month, and the Talbot County Department of Social Services raised awareness about the need for caring individuals and families to provide affirming care to a growing number of youth placed in out-of-home care, or foster care. Today, we spotlight the journey that Dr. Frances Seymour of Easton took to become a dedicated foster parent.

Dr. Seymour grew up in a family that always had an open-door policy to caring for family and friends’ children. Her maternal aunt and maternal grandmother raised her maternal uncle’s children, and there were occasions when relatives would take care of someone else’s child for a while.

“So, it was not necessarily uncommon in my family to do this sort of thing. My grandmother had

raised seven children single-handedly during the Depression because her husband died young.

My maternal grandmother also played a part in raising a couple of other relatives. So, there has

been this effort to fill in the gap in my family history,” Dr. Seymour said. “If we had friends who just needed a place to hang out, they could come to our house.”

As she approached retirement, she started looking at the requirements for becoming a resource home provider. She saw that the Talbot County Department of Social Services was offering a structured training and licensing program for foster parents; she thought it might be a good way to achieve her goals of adopting a child and staying active once she stopped working.

“I just started researching the process and watching some online testimonials, and I thought, ‘If

I’m ever going to do it, I have to do it while I can,’ she said. “Although I’m not necessarily ready to retire right now, I would like to shift gears a little bit.”

Adults in Talbot County who are interested in becoming resource foster parents must participate in a specially designed educational program as part of their pre-service training. This training equips participants with the knowledge and skills they need to become part of an integrated team working to reunite children with their families, once it is safe to do so.

Dr. Seymour attended the five-week pre-service training, which in Talbot County combines a mix of attending in-person and virtual classes through Foster Parent College with self-paced, online lessons. Participants are required to complete 27 hours of pre-service training.

“The classes helped me to understand that I might have a child placed with me whose

gender association or race is different from mine. I was raised to accept everyone I meet, as

everybody’s different. I also had been trained in equity issues as a physician, so this resonated

with me,” she said.

After successfully completing her training, Dr. Seymour began the Home Study process.

Talbot County DSS works with local agencies including the Health Department and Fire Marshal to conduct all legally required health and safety inspections. The Home Study process can take several weeks; there is no fee to the applicants. Inspections help ensure that:

  • Each child has their own bed and space for privacy, study, and storing personal belongings;
  • Pets are licensed and properly vaccinated;
  • All firearms in the home are registered and safely stored with ammunition stored separately;
  • Pools, hot tubs, and waterfront properties meet water safety requirements.

“It’s important to have your home be ready for any child who comes in, and the home study team helps you prepare for that,” Dr. Seymour said.

She was licensed as a foster parent in December of 2023. A month later, she agreed to provide temporary care for a teenager. She enjoyed the experience, and she has since opened her home for several other respite placements, including for a sibling group of four, followed by another teenager, and a 10-year-old child.

“Since reunification with the biological family is the primary plan for these children, and I know the value of family, I can just step into that position temporarily and provide support and allow a safe place for healing. That makes me very happy,” Dr. Seymour said.

“Dr. Seymour really advocates for the kids in her care. She has been a special addition to our team of foster parents,” said Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, Talbot County Department of Social Services. “In May, during National Foster Care Month, we thanked all of our parents who do this work, day in and day out, to care for children in our community.”

Dr. Seymour will soon begin caring for a medically fragile teenager. Her experience working as a physician gives her special expertise to fill this role. But anyone with a big heart can find a way to serve children in their community.

“I try to explain to people that I don’t have the power, the money, or the time to fix the world.

But I can try and do something in my little corner of it,” she shares.

Talbot County continuously recruits foster and adoptive parents to help meet the needs of children of all ages, most recently including infants and school-aged children. The agency also gets requests from time to time for sibling groups and older teens who are soon leaving out-of-home care and need guidance in transitioning into adulthood. For further information on becoming a resource parent, call the Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-820-7371 or visit www.midshoreresourceparents.com.