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National Child Advocate Pat O’Brien Addresses Prince George’s County Department Of Social Services Staff At Training

“Your Greatest Gift Is To Serve Children” Advises O’Brien To Audience Of Over 200

LANDOVER, MD – The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGCDSS) hosted nationally recognized adoption advocate, Pat O’Brien, executive director of You Gotta Believe, Older Child Adoption and Permanency Movement, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to preventing homelessness by finding permanent moral and legal homes for teens and pre-teens in foster care. Over 200 gathered for the training on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at Rennie Forum on the campus of Prince George’s Community College.

“It’s not enough to place children in foster homes, I want our staff to be change agents for children by collectively increasing the focus [on families] at the center of all of our practices,” said Gloria L. Brown, Director of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services. “We wanted our staff and community partners to benefit from Mr. O’Brien’s experience and passion for improving outcomes for teens.”

National data estimates that 5 to 7.7 percent of youth experience homelessness each year, while 40 percent of the entire homeless population has spent some time in foster care. The training was an opportunity to educate the agency’s staff, across all divisions, on the daily impact that the department has on the lives of families requiring assistance for stability.

Mr. O’Brien encouraged the audience to recognize the important role that each person plays in the life of a child: serve either as a teacher, advocate, mentor, coach or friend. The final analysis of the day was to ensure that each child who leaves foster care has a permanent home.

“If all of the partners in the child welfare system do not attempt to get teens into permanent families before they are discharged from foster care, they run a high risk of becoming homeless upon discharge from care,” said Pat O’Brien.
For more information on how you can help to find a permanent home for a youth by becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call 301-909-2300.

Filed in: Adoption and Foster Care, Events, Local News, Prince George's County

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