The advantages of being a foster parent of teenagers in VA
Advantages of Being a Foster Parent of a Teenager
Teenagers did not choose to be in Foster Care
When looking at the advantages of being a foster parent of a teenager, the media does a great job of saying why you should say no. Here are some reasons you should say yes and make a tremendous difference for a child in real need.
Aging out of Foster Care
Statistics indicate that 26,000 teens age out of the foster care system every year in the United States. This means that once the foster youth turns 18, they're no longer a part of the foster care system.
Reports further indicate that of those who age out
- one in five will become homeless after the age of 18
- approximately 50% will be unemployed by age 24
- many will have higher rates of jail time
- 71% of young women will become pregnant by age 21
If a biological parent aged out of foster care, it increases their chances of being unable to care for the child and for that child to enter the foster system themselves.
Foster parents have the opportunity to be the stabilizing factor in a teen's life.
Here are a few of the advantages of fostering teenagers.
You can show them what a real home is supposed to be like
Many of the children who enter the foster care system haven't had the opportunity to experience what a "real home" is like. This can include having routines such as eating at the dinner table as a family, cooking with mom or dad, or having homework time. These are usually unfamiliar experiences for foster children.
When you foster a teenager, you can give them a glimpse of what a loving family home is supposed to be like. This will give them the foundation to provide routine and loving structure with their own future families.
You can guide them through their tough teenage years
The teenage years are challenging times for most teens. They learn so much about themselves and the person they're becoming. Going through these experiences without their birth parents can be difficult, isolating, and near impossible.
When fostering a teenager, you have the opportunity to serve in a substitute role and provide them with a trusting relationship during this time of their life. This is one of the most challenging but rewarding and essential aspects of foster care and adoption.
You can teach them important life lessons
There are several things young people don't learn in high school but could be learned in the foster home.
Everyone's experiences are unique, but these lessons can include:
- handling conflicts with others
- balancing responsibilities and leisure
- having safe romantic relationships
- practicing self-care
- managing mental health challenges
Many more life lessons can be added to this list, but these are all things that wouldn't be easily taught to foster youth who don't have foster families to gently guide them.
You may become the only family they have
Can you imagine aging out of the foster system and having a single family member to guide you into early adulthood?
Even if you can only foster the teenager for a short while, you can still open yourself up as long-term support for the child. This care and kindness are the driving forces behind stabilizing the life of a teenager who aged out of the system and is walking into the adult world on shaky ground.
You can show them what love is
The sad truth is that many teens in the foster care system have never been shown love. They've either never had anyone tell them they are loved, or they've never had anyone prove it.
Fostering a teen can mean you can be the final stop in their care journey through the child welfare system and the last chance to show them a loving and caring home.
So, would you foster a teen?
Whether it's helping them get the best grades in school, encouraging them to stick to their hobbies, or helping them pursue their dreams, many aspects of fostering a teen make it one of the most rewarding things you'll probably ever do.
No, it's not easy, and many teens may not trust you instantly and will push you away, but securing the trust of a child who has never trusted anyone before is an immensely gratifying task. You'll change not only the life of the teenager but also your own.