Trenee Parker is the director of the Delaware Division of Family Services, part of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. She first began her career in social work as an intern with the division in 1995 and became its director in 2018.
Every day in Delaware, more than 600 children and teens need a place to live during a difficult time in their lives. And, every day, there’s a network of amazing foster parents giving their home, love, guidance and support to help those youth find safety, security and stability during that challenging time. Some families foster on a full-time, long-term basis, and some families offer respite and emergency care. We appreciate all of our families and are thankful for the roles that you play in supporting children and their families.
We give sincere thanks and appreciation every day, with special attention in May, as it is nationally recognized as Foster Care Month. Recently, Delaware’s elected leaders hosted some of our families at Legislative Hall, as the House of Representatives and Senate passed a resolution recognizing the critical role of the foster care network and the resiliency of youth in care. The resolution deemed May 2023 as Foster Care Month in Delaware. We appreciate this legislative effort, as it not only helps recognize foster families for their dedication, but it brings widespread, public attention to the importance of foster care, and it raises awareness of the ways people can support youth in care — the opportunities are nearly limitless!
Earlier this month, SoDel Concepts provided dinner to feed more than 100 people during our Helping Our Peers Evolve meeting. HOPE is a group of youth and young adults, empowered by their lived experience, who gather to advocate for policy changes and programming. I was bowled over by the generosity of SoDel’s donation! The amount of food provided was so generous, there were plenty of leftovers. For members of the group, that meant those young adults could take food home. It helped them have meals for the rest of that week, so they didn’t have to worry about shopping and cooking, which is something that everyone appreciates. The depths of SoDel’s donation went well beyond one hearty and delicious meal. Everyone — the youth, young adults and providers — left happy and full!
Our youth in foster care have been the beneficiaries of generous donations from many churches and community organizations, who provide gifts to support our youth in foster care each holiday season. Some of those organizations include Love of Christ Church in Bear, the Independent Living for Young Adults program through the Unitarian Universalist Church, Carey’s Church in Laurel and Foster Well.
All of those donations and the countless others we receive are great ways that the community can support youth who have experienced or who are experiencing foster care! While you may not be able to foster a child, maybe you or your organization could sponsor dinner or provide gift cards for youth who are going to college or moving into their own homes. You could donate backpacks with school supplies or help pay for extracurricular activities, such as dance or music lessons and athletic uniforms.
Please invite me or a member of our Division of Family Services team to speak at your church, service organization, community meeting or workplace, so we can share the many opportunities that exist to make a difference in the lives of Delaware’s youth.
We value our foster parents, and they are vital to the success of children and youth who experience foster care! We see the impact of your support every day on our youth, and we can’t thank you enough for being a part of our team. You change the lives of the children and youth of Delaware through your love!
To learn how you can become a foster parent and support youth in care, visit de.gov/fostercare or call 302-633-2657.