Potlucks at Easton Family YMCA Offer Newly Licensed Foster Parents Support

Several new foster parents have been licensed in Talbot County following recent PRIDE (Parents Resource for Information, Development, and Education) trainings.

PRIDE, a model for the development and support of foster and adoptive families, is a 27- hour training program designed to strengthen the quality of family foster care and adoption services by providing a standardized framework for recruiting, preparing, and selecting foster and adoptive parents.  It also provides these parents with in-service training and ongoing professional development for managing  the issues they will encounter with the children in their care.

In addition to training and professional development, foster parents licensed through the Talbot County Department of Social Services are invited to participate in quarterly potluck gatherings. These gatherings offer foster parents the opportunity to support one another, as well as offer their families a chance to mingle and participate in family fun.  As a Department of Social Services partner, the Easton Family YMCA has offered its new Thomas E. Hill Center for Youth Development for a few of the foster parent gatherings.  The Center’s new climbing wall has been popular among the children in attendance.  It was through this partnership with the YMCA that two YMCA employees became interested in becoming foster parents.

left to right, are Kathy Jenkins of Easton, Katie Russ, coordinator of Option Respite at the Talbot County Department of Social Services; Christina and Greg Taney of Easton, Christine M. Abbatiello, LGSW, Special Projects Coordinator at the Talbot County Department of Social Services; and Jodi Davis of Easton. Pictured back row, left to right, are Wanda Ball-Gross of Easton, Kim Crews of Wye Mills, and Bob Davis of Easton.

Wanda Ball-Gross, who currently works with the YMCA’s Childwatch Program, learned about becoming a foster parent from a foster family utilizing childcare at the YMCA.  She comments, “I had been exposed to a family that did foster care while living in Severna Park as a child.  I always admired how the children interacted with one another as they spent time as one big family.  I think it was a sign that I met foster families here.  I have realized that this is where I am supposed to be.”

Newly trained foster parents Jodi and Bob Davis of  Easton also learned about the need for foster families at the YMCA where they both work.  Jodi is Director for Youth Development at the YMCA and Bob, retired from the MD Department of Natural Resources, works with the YMCA climbing wall. Jodi comments, “We are huge outdoor people and feel that being able to expose kids to the outdoors is important.  The PRIDE training put us in the shoes of the children, helping us to understand what they have lost when they go into foster care and how we can help with that.”  She adds, “One of the exercises we did involved us writing down our dreams and then having someone else take the piece of paper and tear it up.  It helped us look at things through their eyes.”

For further information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Talbot County, contact Katie Russ at the Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-820-7371.  An information session will be held on April 12, 2012 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Social Services,125 Comet Drive in Centreville.

CONTACT: Susan Merriken (410) 770-4848

Filed in: Child Welfare, DHS News, In this County, Talbot County

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