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MDHHS and Samaritas host virtual Town Hall about supporting LGBTQ+ youth in foster care

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Samaritas are hosting a virtual Foster Care Town Hall Wednesday, May 29 at noon to share information about what LGBTQ+ foster youth are experiencing and how to support these youth and their needs.

Panelists include:

  • Demetrius Starling, senior deputy director, MDHHS Children’s Services Administration.
  • Jerry Peterson, leading SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) training expert.
  • Kevin Van Den Bosch, Samaritas chief program officer.

Young people who leave foster care are one of the most vulnerable populations in Michigan. While MDHHS has transitional services available, each year close to 550 foster youth age out of foster care, heightening their vulnerability to homelessness. In fact, 33% of Michigan teens leaving foster care will experience homelessness before the age of 21. Foster kids who identify as LGBTQ+ may experience additional challenges.

“More foster families are needed in Michigan to provide stable and safe family homes for children of all ages,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “LGBTQ+ youth often face additional challenges in the foster care system, and this webinar is intended to provide information on their needs and how foster families can best support them.”

“Shaping the path of a teenager in foster care to adulthood can be extremely rewarding,” said Laura Mitchell, executive director of child welfare for Samaritas. “Older foster children have been through a lot; however, they can share with you the root of their heartache and give you a chance to help them. It’s a beautiful thing when that teen can go on with life and can pass along the love they’ve absorbed to others.”

To register for the virtual Town Hall, visit

Michigan has approximately 10,000 children in foster care and temporary foster homes are needed for children of all ages, especially teens, sibling groups and youth who have special needs.

The first step to becoming a foster parent is contacting a Foster Care Navigator. Navigators are experienced foster parents who can answer questions, help individuals find an agency that’s right for them and provide guidance along their journey to becoming a foster parent. They can be reached at 855-MICHKIDS with additional information available at Foster Care Navigators are also able to assist families with the foster home licensing process.

To learn more about foster care, visit

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