At The MENTOR Network we are always looking for ways enhance our services and provide well-rounded support to help all individuals shape the direction of their own lives in community-based settings. With recent research suggesting that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth comprise approximately 10% of the U.S. foster care population, The MENTOR Network has been working to better support LGBTQ youth and foster parents.
Joe Bowman, Program Director for Ohio MENTOR, has been committed to educating foster parents in Ohio and nationally for many years. In July, Bowman presented, for the fifth time, at the Foster Family-based Treatment Association’s (FFTA) Annual Conference in Nashville where he led an interactive discussion designed to help foster parents and human services professionals better support LGBTQ youth. His workshop encouraged awareness through active participation exercises, discussion and a statistical look at discrimination, abuse, harassment and suicide rates among LGBTQ youth. Participants were offered an overview of the “coming out” process and what that means to the child being supported as well as the foster parent. Bowman also provided direction and tips to assist foster parents and human service providers in supporting LGBTQ youth.
“With the growing number of youth coming out about their sexual orientation at a much earlier age and the risk factors they experience, it is important for foster parents to be prepared to provide the appropriate support and direction needed,” said Bowman. “This training educates participants about the challenges LGBTQ youth in foster care face and how to deal with those. It is important for foster parents to be aware of the challenges youth in their home may encounter at school and in their communities.”
Bowman offers his training at agencies throughout Ohio and is pleased to have met many LGBTQ youth who have benefited from his workshops. He is also proud to work for Ohio MENTOR where he can continue to help children feel comfortable, safe and happy in stable, loving homes.
“We are very pleased to have a national expert on this important topic on our team so that we can provide the best care, treatment and support to all of the youth we serve,” says Chip Bonsutto, Operations Director at Ohio MENTOR. “Joe focuses on engaging foster parents, Ohio MENTOR staff and other members of a child’s circle of support to ensure youth receive comprehensive support to deal with difficult challenges and continue to be successful.”
The MENTOR Network is proud to call nearly 7,500 foster parents and host home providers throughout the United States Mentors. If you are interested in becoming a Mentor, or know someone who might, visit makeadifferenceathome.com.