At Buncombe County Health and Human Services, we seek to advance health, safety, and opportunity for all residents. This goal is shared across every service area within our agency, Social Work included. To celebrate Pride month, our social work division participated in a queer inclusion training facilitated by Julia Hoffart, Ethan Woods, and Whitney Rosenblatt from Healthy Transitions. Facilitators focused on 4 main topics during their presentation:
- Building an understanding of risk and safety factors impacting the LGBTQIA+ population
- Recommending opportunities to link LGBTQIA+ individuals to adequate and appropriate services that promote positive development and strengthen their resilience
- Identifying ways to partner with and support LGBTQIA+ individuals to work toward a safe, stable future for them and their families, and
- Allowing individuals with lived experience to share their stories, preferences, and recommendations on how to best connect to and serve those who identify as LGBTQIA+.
The groundswell for this training has been growing over the past few years along with the number of young people in foster care who identify as members of the queer community. “In celebration of Pride month, we wanted to provide information and tools for our social work teams to utilize as they engage with our foster youth,” says Permanency Planning Program Manager, Amber Cook. Cook continues, “Our hope is that every person in attendance gained insight, are committed to furthering their knowledge, and are actively engaged in being an ally for our LGBTQIA+ foster youth.”
Social work staff had nothing but positive experiences to share after the training. “This training was a helpful and important reminder that children need adults they can trust,” recounts Buncombe Social Worker, Ben Reid. “It is essential that we as social workers approach the children we serve with respect and dignity.”
The Buncombe County Social Work division is full of passionate people working to make our community a better and safer place for all residents. This training helped them develop the skills and understanding they need to support queer Buncombe youth in foster care. Ashleigh Tenny, Buncombe Social Worker reflects, “It is imperative that our youth feel accepted and affirmed, especially given the added trauma that comes along with being in foster care.” We are fortunate to have had the chance to learn from our partners in equity, Healthy Transitions and remain grateful for the insight they offered during their presentation.