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300 to gather for foster parent conference in Dover

Date Posted: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Categories:  DSCYF Former Governor Jack Markell (2009-2017) News Office of the Governor

Dover – Nearly 300 foster families, Division of Family Services staff and service providers will gather in Dover on Thursday May 30th, to learn more about best practice tools and strategies to help care for children who experience Delaware’s foster care system. The theme for the Foster Parent Conference and Recognition Luncheon hosted by the State’s Division of Family Services (DFS) is Partners in Progress: Healing Through Hope. This is the second year that conference workshops have spanned a full day instead of a half day as in previous years. DFS officials say foster parents provide a critically important role in Delaware’s child protective services system.

“They open their hearts and their homes to care for these children, many of whom have experienced a variety of trauma in their young lives, and provide love, nurturing, stability, safety and support,” said DFS Director Vicky Kelly. “It is our goal to support them through this conference so they can even more effectively care for the children who enter their homes.”

Workshops cover a variety of topics including strategies for dealing with difficult behaviors, how to help children maintain familial bonds and connections while in care, the impact of trauma on behavior, and helping children in care get through school. Keynote speakers include the Reverend Darrell L. Armstrong discussing “Congregational Home Visiting,” a program that trains clergy to plan and implement programming related to child abuse & neglect, and Mr. William Kellibrew IV, a motivational speaker on civil, human, women, children and victims’ rights and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) consultant who will speak about his own experiences with the impact of trauma.

Foster parents provide a temporary home to children who have entered the child protective services system due to abandonment, abuse and/or neglect and prepare them to either reunify with their birth family or move onto a new permanent family when reunification is not appropriate. There are nearly 800 children currently in foster care in Delaware.

“I see foster parents as the starting point for our children’s healing journey,” said Jennifer Ranji, Cabinet Secretary for the Children’s Department. “As the theme for the conference indicates, we want to continue to build our partnership with our foster parents and to hear from them regarding initiatives we’re developing to better support their work with children in very challenging circumstances.” These initiatives include additional training opportunities and respite support.

Additionally, the Division of Family Services is in need of, and actively recruiting, more families to care for children with special needs including teens, sibling groups and children with special needs or who are medically fragile.

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov.

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