Talbot County Department of Social Services Recruits Resource Homes for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care

May 16, 2024

Media Contact: Brian Schleter (he/him)

Talbot County Department of Social Services Recruits Resource Homes for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care

EASTON, MD — Each May, during national Foster Care Awareness month, we recognize the unwavering contributions of resource families in Talbot County who open their hearts and homes to children who have experienced abuse and neglect. The Talbot County Department of Social Services (TCDSS) is building a diverse and inclusive network of caring individuals and families to provide affirming care to a growing number of youth placed in out-of-home care who identify as LGBTQIA+.

“Recently, we’ve seen a growing need for resource parents and respite providers for LGBTQIA+ youth in out-of-home care,” said Paris Quillet (she/her), Special Projects Coordinator for the Talbot County Department of Social Services. “Anyone can be a resource parent for LGBTQIA+ youth. Parenting is parenting. We ensure parents are prepared adequately with appropriate knowledge and skills tailored to the individual needs of children including their racial and ethnic identities, spiritual identities, as well as their sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.”

The agency actively supports the LGBTQIA+ community, serving as a sponsor of the Delmarva Pride Festival and offering resources at local events to educate residents about the many services and programs at TCDSS. TCDSS employees participate in inclusivity training to responsively serve the diverse population of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“Our agency is working hard to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for everyone in the community,” Quillet said. “We are here to empower foster parents caring for LGBTQIA+ youth and to recruit individuals and families that affirm youth’s inherent worth and dignity.”

Studies in some localities indicate that 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA+) – higher than the approximately 10 percent estimated for the general youth population.

Tina Jones (she/her), who is transgender and a former foster parent for TCDSS, said LGBTQIA+ youth need a system of support because many have been shunned by their families. Jones serves on the Maryland Commission for LGBTQIA+ Affairs and the FreeStateJustice Board. She also is a co-founder of the Delmarva Pride Center and facilitator of the Delmarva Gender Expression Movement (GEM), the first transgender and nonbinary support group on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

“The role is often being more of a mentor and an ally. What LGBTQIA+ children who are in foster care need is someone who’s loving and willing to learn and understand them,” said Jones.

Research from the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland suggests that once removed from their unsafe homes, LGBTQIA+ youth are less likely to be reunified with their families or adopted. Many LGBTQIA+ youth report experiencing rejection, discrimination, and stigma. By providing homes that attend to LGBTQIA+ youth’s individual material, social, and emotional needs, Talbot County residents can help LGBTQIA+ youth heal, grow and thrive.

“Like all youth, LGBTQIA+ young people in foster care need a safe and accepting home, freedom to be themselves, and structure and guidance as they grow into healthy adults. TCDSS is committed to identifying and supporting resource home parents and families that can guide LGBTQIA+ youth on their journey,” said Quillet.

Talbot County continues to need more 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.

Photo Caption: Pictured left to right at the 2023 Delmarva Pride Festival are Talbot County
Department of Social Services (TCDSS) Human Resources Officer Traci Corbin, TCDSS Child Protection Services Supervisor Erika Fenske, and TCDSS Advisory Board Member Sue Browning.