Three foster care children from Talbot County recently had the opportunity to attend the Daniel Memorial Institute’s 21ST Annual National Independent Living Association Conference, entitled “Growing Pains 2008” in Kissimmee, FL. For nine years, foster care children on the Mid Shore have joined foster care children nationally to attend this annual conference which has been held in locations across the United States, including such cities as Kansas City, San Antonio, Atlanta, and St. Louis.
Children attend the program at no cost as it is sponsored by the federal government and supported by local funds in an effort to help foster care children gain independent living skills. According to Susan Merriken, Foster Care/Adoption Supervisor with the Talbot County Department of Social Services, “We select children to attend the conference based on trustworthiness, outstanding behavior and because we feel they can benefit from an experience like this.” She adds, “This trip gives these children the opportunity to meet other foster children who may share their experiences.”
In addition to the workshop sessions the children attend, they gain skills from the trip such as how to budget their money, ordering in restaurants, travel skills, and how to use other modes of transportation. In addition, they are exposed to children of diverse races and cultures from across the United States and some foreign countries.
The National Independent Living Conference is one of the many resources offered to children of foster parents. November is National Adoption Month. Persons interested in learning more about becoming foster/adoptive parents, can contact Talbot County Department of Social Services staff at 410-770-4848.