Taking a Chance on Teenagers
Teenagers in the Foster Care System
All teenagers are in an awkward and unprecedented stage of life. They are stuck between childhood and adulthood. They're tasked with balancing responsibilities in the home, at school, in extracurriculars, and possibly at a job.
On top of this, they're undergoing drastic hormonal and body changes. Social media marketing has targeted teenagers and young adults, and they spend many hours on social networking sites and social media sites. This in itself causes social pressure and can have negative consequences. They're pushing through these various challenges while thinking, "Who am I?"
Teenagers need support, love, and guidance during that difficult part of their lives. Instead, many teens in the United States are entering foster care, coming from a birth family that didn't offer a safe, loving, and supportive home environment.
According to a monthly snapshot from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) written in January 2020, most youth who came into care were between the ages of 13 and 15 when last removed from their homes. As noted in VDSS data taken from March 2020, just over half of all youth in care are between the ages of 13 and 21.
In the central region of the state, the majority of youth in care are between the ages of 16 and 18. Children in foster care who turn 18 while still in care are eligible to receive services through Fostering Futures.
Based on a true story of a brave teen
Recently, a teen in need stumbled across this website. The teen was searching for support and contacted the state. They reported that they believed they needed to be in foster care due to their unsafe situation at home.
This teen was traveling across several states without a stable environment and sleeping on friends' couches. They reported that their sibling had been taken into foster care and, thankfully, received the support they needed.
Our family advocate took down this information and contacted Child Protective Services (CPS) for the county the youth was calling from. The very next day, that teen came into foster care.
Luckily, there was a brave and loving foster parent who agreed to open her home to the teen. The only information she received when she got the call for placement was: The youth's gender, age, and an initial call for the teen to advocate for their own needs. Four hours later, that teenager walked through her front door and changed both of their lives for the better.
More teens are in need of help
While this is just a chapter in this young person's life story, this situation could have gone so many different ways. This teen saw the success of an older brother who had been placed in the foster care system and received services through Fostering Futures. Thankfully, they trusted that they would be able to obtain similar success.
Because this teen reached out for help, they don't have to couch surf and end up in a potentially dangerous situation. It also reinforced their belief that adults will be there when they need them.
Because a foster parent was willing to open her home to a teenager based on very little information, looking past all of the "what ifs" that may cause concerning teen behavior. The teen can be in a family environment rather than possibly being placed in a group home setting.
The objective of fostering is to protect children and child safety. This duty also extends to teens, regardless of the various obstacles they are working hard to overcome.
Take a chance on a teen. You could change both of your lives for the better.