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Keyword: foster care

Baltimore County Department of Social Services works to reunite brothers and sisters

From June 19 to 25, Camp Connect celebrates 17 years of reuniting siblings separated in foster care. This year 20 sibling groups ranging in age from six to eighteen will be coming from seven Maryland jurisdictions to be reunited at a week-long overnight camp. Baltimore County Department of Social Services (BCoDSS) began the camp in 2000, relying heavily upon a group of volunteer counselors.

“All too often, when children enter foster care, they lose not just their mother and father, but brothers and sisters as well, even if temporarily,” said Mark Millspaugh, Deputy Director of the BCoDSS. “Camp Connect reunites Maryland siblings separated in foster care for a week of new experiences, fun and a bit of adventure.”

Modeled after Camp to Belong, a camp and sibling advocacy program based in Colorado, Camp Connect’s goal is to cultivate life-long positive memories, according to Judith Schagrin, Assistant Director for the BCoDSS Division of Children’s Services and unofficial Camp Director.

“We aim for a week that promotes sibling bonds and offers new, memorable experiences for family members,” said Schagrin. “We hope these important memories far outlast their stay in our foster care system.”

Campers are grouped with siblings, not by age. The “counselors,” are all volunteers, including social workers, attorneys, administrators, CASA volunteers and others who hail from agencies and organizations dedicated to the welfare of children. They are routinely joined by former campers, who return repeatedly to donate their time as counselors.

Activities include horseback riding, biking, white-water rafting, swimming, arts and crafts, campfires, field trips to places such as an amusement park and evening entertainment that includes a talent show, professional juggler, learning African dancing and more.

Schagrin said the best way to get a sense of the camp is to speak with a camper or counselor and she welcomes inquiries from members of the media who may wish to interview former campers. “At the final night’s evening campfire, we asked each camper to share how they felt about the week,” said Schagrin. “One of the most touching was one camper, who thanked the staff, not just for the time he spent with his sisters, but for something he thought he’d never have again…the chance to be a child.” 


Attend a monthly informational meeting – Wednesday, January 11

The Baltimore County Department of Social Services is seeking individuals and couples interested in becoming resource parents. Currently Baltimore County has over 550 children in foster care.

Resource parents are those who foster or adopt children in need of care. Foster care provides children with a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment while the parents and other family members are offered services intended to remedy the problem that led to the child’s placement in foster care. Foster care is meant to be temporary, as the ultimate goal is to reunify children with their parents whenever possible.

To be a resource parent, you need to:

  • Have patience, flexibility and a commitment to children
  • Be over age 21
  • Be able to meet your family’s financial obligations
  • Have room for a child
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Agree to have a background check, including criminal background

If you are interested in becoming a resource parent or learning about the process, attend our next monthly meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, January 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Drumcastle Government Center located at 6401 York Road, 21212. No appointment or RSVP necessary. Staff will be assigned to work with you to provide training and ongoing support once a child is placed in your home. Financial and medical assistance are also provided.

For more information, visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/resourceparent or call 410-853-3170.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017