Kathy Jenkins of Easton has been selected as Talbot County Department of Social Services’ Resource Parent of the Year for her commitment to providing a loving and safe place for children and supporting families in Talbot County. Jenkins became a licensed foster parent with Talbot County 11 years ago after retiring from a career with Bowie State University. She decided she wanted to do something part-time related to social work as she has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in counseling and psychology – both from Bowie State University. As a foster parent, she decided to do the respite program part-time – taking children in foster care on weekends and giving biological parents and foster parents respite.
Jenkins has one child, a daughter now 27 years old. She recalls that because she couldn’t have any other children, she considered adoption when her daughter was a teenager. In 2015, she was asked to foster a baby, whom she adopted the same year when she was 56 years old. Jenkins embraced her role as a new mother again and continued to do respite for young children.
“I love it because it is something in my heart I wanted to do,” she comments.
Jenkins comes from a large family herself and is a family-oriented person. When children in foster care are placed in her care, they join in the family activities and are accepted with open arms.
“I care a lot. I give everything I have to them. Kids need love, someone to care, someone to talk to, and someone to listen. I do for them what my mother did for me.”
“Kathy provided permanency through adoption for one of our children and provided respite care for many children throughout the Eastern Shore over the years. This year, Kathy has provided for a child in foster care and has been instrumental in keeping the family connections. She has been an advocate for the biological parents, providing support, coaching, and an open heart. Kathy not only provides a loving and safe place for children, but she provides that same love, compassion, and support to their parents. She is a role model to other resource parents and truly focuses on building, not replacing,” comments Paris Quillet, Special Project Coordinator at Talbot County Department of Social Services.
“I can help children in foster care understand how to be positive in their circumstances, as well as support biological parents who may be struggling. It’s important to help reunite children with their biological families,” adds Jenkins.
“It’s amazing how my life has been going – doing what I am doing. I love having an impact on these children’s lives. God blessed my heart to be who I am.”
In her free time, Jenkins takes her heart to places around the world through mission trips, supporting families in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and the Philippines.
“It’s helping those who don’t have what we have here.”
Today, Jenkins relies on a network of foster parents in Talbot County who help provide her with respite care when she needs it as she continues to foster children. In addition to her son, now age eight, Jenkins is caring for a one-year-old child in foster care.
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 aging out of foster care and need guidance in transitioning into adulthood. For further information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call the Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-820-7371 or visit midshoreresourceparents.com.