Prince George’s County Department Of Social Services Conducts First-Ever “Family Match Making” Event

LANDOVER, MD – The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGCDSS) is employing innovation in securing permanent families for youth in foster care. The agency conducted its first-ever “Family Match Making” event on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at the Radisson Hotel in Largo. The family match concept pairs youth with prospective families in an open forum that allows the youth to interview families.

“The concept is a departure from traditional foster care placement,” said Gloria L. Brown, Director, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services. “This platform is open and casual. The process incorporates engaging youth in selecting potential families while providing an opportunity for youth to interact with families prior to placement. This minimizes the occurrence of disruption.”

In March, the agency conducted a focus group to dispel the myths and misconceptions of fostering and adopting teens. The focus group was comprised of foster parents who had fostered a teen, current parents, interested individuals who had completed training, and those indicating an interest in becoming foster/adoptive parents. The group discussed experiences and expectations. A 12 year-old youth explained how her initial skepticism shifted when she realized that she was indeed “part of a family.” Based on the success of the focus group, the participants expressed interest in participating in the family matching event.

Fourteen prospective parents fielded questions from youth interested in connecting with a family. “Do you have a curfew?” “Will I get an allowance?” and “Can I have a girlfriend?” are a few of the real-life questions that were asked.
“It was wonderful to see the youth uninhibited and very interested in the prospective families,” said Colette Walker-Thomas, Deputy Director of the agency’s Child, Adult and Family Services division. “Each youth was given several standard questions to ask, however, they formulated their individual questions based on their specific areas of interest.”

Eleven staff members showed their support by ensuring that the youth were transported to and from the event, as well as assistance from foster parents and graduate student volunteers.

The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services is committed to ensuring the positive and permanent placement of youth residing in the county. Sixty-five percent of the children in foster care are 12 years and older. The agency’s “Change A Life. Change the World” campaign is geared toward increasing the awareness for the need to connect a teen to a loving home. For more information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call 301-909-2300.

Filed in: DHS News, Local News, Prince George's County, Uncategorized

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