Why Should You Become a Foster Parent for a Teenager?
Virginia has 4,800 children and youth in foster care. Of that number, 48% (or 2,304) are over the age of 13-years old. 18% of children and youth leaving foster care in Virginia are 18-years old. This makes Virginia one of the worst states in the country in having youth "age out" of the foster care system without a permanent family. (United Methodist Family Services website, 2022, accessed on 03/18/2022, https://www.umfs.org/virginia-foster-care-statistics/) The outcomes for youth who leave foster care without a permanent family are not pretty:
21% - 53% of the homeless population has spent some time in foster care
Less than 60% graduate high school; only 3% go on to college
41% have spent at least one night in jail within 6 months; 7% are incarcerated and 45% have some kind of interaction with law enforcement
7 in 10 girls who age out of foster care will be pregnant by age 19
25% have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
While pondering those statistics, consider that the average age of children leaving their parents home is 24-years old. There are currently 1,700 children and youth in Virginia who are legally free for adoption. Of that number, 30% (or 510), are over the age of 13-years old; the average age is 9-years old. (United Methodist Family Services website, 2022, accessed on 03/18/2022, https://www.umfs.org/virginia-foster-care-statistics/) The need for foster parents to care for teenagers is dire. During the summer of 2021, over 100 children spent at least one night in a local Department of Social Services (DSS) office because a foster family willing to take them could not be identified. Many teenagers in foster care have lengthy trauma histories, and can be very difficult to manage, there is no denying that. But remember this: Teenagers did not ask to be in foster care. Adults in their lives have let them down. Teenagers need a loving, nurturing, and stable family just as much as younger children, perhaps even more so. So why should you become a foster parent for a teenager?
Your care will impact them forever
You will make a hard time in their live a little easier
You will show them what a safe, stable, loving family looks like
You will teach them to be resilient when they are scared
You will show them what it feels like to belong
You may be the only person they truly trust
You will teach them how to love others in a healthy way.
By fostering a teen, you will ensure them that they do have to face big life decisions alone. You could be their last stop in foster care, and keep them from being traumatized further. Finally, you can show them that someone will love and encourage them for being who they are uniquely made to be. By fostering a teenager who could help them get their best grades ever, or play sports, or dance, or play an instrument for the first time. You can help them find hobbies and interests and keep them interested in them. You can help them follow their dreams. And yes, being a foster family to a teenager may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. But do you know what else? It can be one of the most satisfying, gratifying things you will ever do in your life. If you want to make an impact on the life of a teenager in foster care, please visit our website www.embracetfc.com. One yes can make a difference.