Growing pains can be hard to handle sometimes, but teens don’t outgrow the need for a loving family. There are thousands of older children who still need to be fostered or adopted by loving families nationwide. Foster care can make a major positive impact on these older teens. Let’s look at why.
Learn more about becoming a foster parent here!
The numbers behind teen adoption and fostering
More than 15,000 18-year-olds will age out of foster care without finding an adoptive family. Approximately one in five children in U.S. foster care waiting to be adopted are teens, but only 5% of all children adopted in 2017 were 15-18 years old. These kids won’t have anyone to call about a flat tire, job interviews, first dates, and so much more. Fostering and/or adopting these kids into a loving environment can impact their lives in a big, meaningful way. They also impact your life—helping you grow as a person and a parent in unexpected ways.
The challenges of at-risk teens’ future – foster parents can make a difference!
Teens who age out of foster care without a permanent support system are at increased risk of homelessness, young parenthood, low educational attainment, and other issues. Youth who age out of foster care are less likely to graduate high school and earn a college education too.
As a result, they often face challenges in finding gainful employment. For example, only half of youth who were once in foster care finish high school, and less than 3% graduate college. These devastating outcomes are often a result of emotional issues, difficulty achieving passing grades, and mental health challenges. However, committed foster parenting can help mitigate their risk status.
Education is so important for the success of all children, and this is a critical area where foster parents can help. But you don’t have to do it alone! KVC’s Fostering Educational Success program empowers parents and caregivers with the support, knowledge and drive they need so they can work with their kids to achieve school success. Family participants are paired with a dedicated Family Coach who works with the student, family, and school to ensure positive growth and achievement.
The emotional impact of foster care for teens
Foster care provides a safe place that allows youth and their birth family an opportunity to resolve conflicts and learn healthy skills so the youth can safely return home. Some birth families need help learning effective parenting skills, overcoming substance abuse, or learning healthy ways to cope with the trauma. Foster care allows time for this while attending to the child’s needs.
These adolescents, including teens, may have experienced abuse, neglect, or other family challenges. Foster families fill a void for these teens, providing care, support, love, and compassion kids need to heal and grow. And at the same time, foster parents themselves become enriched by the experience. You can read the stories of some actual KVC foster parents here! Something as simple as giving a teen in foster care a nice holiday can boost their morale and help them heal.
A home for the holidays
It’s easy to overlook the impact of holidays when we have friends and family together to celebrate. We come together around tables and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. However, many teens don’t have a safe and stable home to go to for the holidays. They won’t experience feeling that sense of closeness, connection, and community so many of us take for granted. But, with foster parenting, this doesn’t have to be the case.
For over 400,000 U.S. children in foster care, enjoying family holidays won’t be possible. Making plans for the future may also be difficult during this time, which can be disappointing. This is because teens who find themselves in foster care have often been removed from their parents due to abuse or neglect. Typically, their regular home environment was unsafe or their family was going through a crisis. Foster care for teens is a safe option that can provide a positive holiday experience despite their situation. This also gives the teen and birth family an opportunity to resolve conflicts and learn healthy skills so they may safely reunite.
Other ways to help teens in foster care
Besides foster care, there are many other ways you can support these teens in need. Here are a couple of options!
Make a Donation For the Holidays
Become a KVC Holiday Hero and donate gifts to children, teens and individuals in need! You can also sign up for our Everyday Hero monthly giving program. Next year, we’ll also have opportunities for you to sponsor or attend one of our fundraising events. These events support our foster parents and their teens, and you’ll get the opportunity to learn from their experiences. You can also learn more about our mission at KVC and how you can be a part of it! No matter what you give, your gift makes a difference.
Volunteer Your Time and Talents
KVC is always looking for volunteers for events and other projects throughout the year. Even if you can’t commit to fostering teens, you can still impact their lives. Help plan our major fundraising and outreach events like our Resource Family Conference or Holiday Hero program. If you have a special talent, contact our offices to see how you can use it to help.
Educate Yourself and Others
Sadly, suicide rates continue to increase for at-risk teens and youth in need of care. You can be an advocate for these young people by raising awareness and educating your community. KVC publishes new content frequently on our website and social media pages that you can use to educate yourself and others. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and share our posts to spread awareness!
November is National Adoption Month!
Throughout National Adoption Month, and particularly on National Adoption Day which is November 21 this year, courthouses across the country will help families finalize their adoptions and grow in love. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these adoption hearings are happening virtually in most states this year.
Gatherings in courthouses, balloon releases and other fun group activities typically mark National Adoption Day celebrations. This time around, families and KVC staff are taking new approaches to celebrate families who adopted this year. Children’s adoption finalizations are still able to happen with judges using video conferencing, and every one is worth celebrating.
Over 123,000 children and teens urgently need loving, adoptive families in the United States. These children have experienced many challenges, and are at risk of aging out of foster care without a forever family. Want more information? Learn more about foster parenting in Nebraska!