COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Foster care worker asks LGBTQ community to help

Jeromy Klinger of TFI Family Services sets up tables at Pride events every year to encourage members of the LGBTQ community to consider taking in foster children.

Jeromy Klinger is a foster care worker and an advocate for the LGBTQ community in Tahlequah. In his position, he seeks out members of the community who are willing to open their hearts and homes to displaced children.

Klinger grew up in Ponca City and attended Northeastern State University so he could be close to his tribal community, Cherokee Nation. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and later a Master of Science in the same field. His knowledge of the law has helped him understand how to best serve the Tahlequah community.

“I moved here in 2006 to be closer to my tribe, and I fell in love with the town,” said Klinger. “I needed to understand how these laws were written, so my degrees have helped me in my advocacy.”

Klinger works for TFI Family Connections, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) that works with the Department of Human Services to place children in safe homes.

In 2014, he connected with Carden Crow, of TahlEquality, who was organizing the group's annual pride picnic, and Klinger decided it was a great opportunity to connect with the community.

“I knew we needed foster parents, so I asked him if I could put out some applications at their pride picnic. I just wanted to get out there and spread the word,” he said.

Soon afterward, Crow asked Klinger if he wanted to be on the TahlEquality board.

“I’ve been on the bard since and have helped to run every event. I served as their vice president under Carden in 2016 up until last year,” he added.

While Klinger is not a member of the LGBTQ community himself, he believes it is important to serve as an ally, and to be vocal.

“I have a pride flag that on my porch 24-7. I wave it so the community knows this is a safe place to be,” said Klinger.

He has also found success recruiting foster families from the LGBTQ community.

“At the agency, we are not allowed to discriminate in any way. We are happy to take applications and talk to people. We are willing to talk to anyone. I have had a couple of homes that were from the LGBT community, and they were some of the best foster homes I’ve ever had,” said Klinger.

Over the years serving on the TahlEquality board, he has found the greater Tahlequah community has been supportive of LGBTQ causes.

“Tahlequah is a unique place for the LGBT community. Every year we’ve had the Pride event since 2014, and we’ve never had a protester,” he said. “I am proud with Oklahoma that the level of acceptance is amazing here.”

Get involved

For more information about becoming a foster family, visit tfifamily.org.

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