There are over 100 kids in foster care in White County as of right now. Many of them are precious babies and small children that need loving families to provide for them while their biological families work to get them back. However, not all of the foster children in White County have chubby cheeks. There are several teens in White County that have just as many needs as small children. They need loving homes and support systems to help them navigate into adulthood. Right now there are 28 teens in foster care in the county — 15 teens ages 12-14, 13 teens ages 15-17, and at least two foster teens that are in college.
Here are a few stats on teens that age out of the system:
- Taxpayers spend about $8 billion a year in the US in social costs (public assistance, incarceration, etc…)
- Only 30.7% of teens in foster care graduate high school
- Less than 11% go to college
- Only 2.5% will graduate college
- 1 in 5 will become homeless after 18
- Only half of children in foster care will be employed at age 24
- 71% of young women in foster care will become pregnant by 21
- 1 in 4 children in foster care will suffer from PTSD
The teens in our county and in our state need our help before they become just another statistic. We are in desperate need of families that want to foster teens.
Ideal foster parents for teens are:
- Empty Nesters – Parents who have recently dealt with teen issues and have experience to draw from in parenting this age. Parents who are already “in the groove” of parenting children and can more easily add a teen to the home.
- Single individuals (without small children) – Singles can foster same-sex teenages and be a positive role model.
- Couples without children – Couples without children can work well together to be an advocate for an abused or neglected teenager. This child may not be in the home long, but, especially with older teens, loving couples can be instrumental in launching them into the next stage of their lives.
If you don’t fit the ideals above, it doesn’t mean you can’t foster and it doesn’t mean you would not be successful fostering a teen, but it may mean that you might want to try to find another way to help a teen in foster care.
Fostering isn’t the only way to help a teen in foster care. The CALL in White County is in the process of launching the Transitional Age Program (TAP). The goal of the program is to provide support and services to foster teens in the system whether they have foster families, live in a group home, or have already graduated and are trying to make it through college.
TAP services will be offered to foster youth ages 12-21. We are still working on expanding our services, but as of right now once the program launches we will provide the following services:
- Tutoring for high school and college and test prep (ACT, driver’s license, etc…), college preparations (FAFSA and other prep assistance)
- Job shadowing and assistance in job searching
- Shopping (prom, work clothes, clothing vounchers…)
- College age mentoring consisting of weekly visits to help with accountability
- Support groups
- Life skills training (cooking, practice driving, sex education, finances, etc…)
- Weekend and summer camps and retreats
In order to provide adequate services to these teens we are in need of volunteers that have a heart for teens willing to dedicate their time to investing in teens lives. We need people to help in all of the above areas and people that may be able to expand our current services.
You may not be able to foster, but you may be able to help these teens. If you’re interested in volunteering with the Transitional Age Program, contact TAP coordinator Jocelyn Pannell at 501-941-8793 or Volunteer Coordinator Fran Howard at 501-590-8972. You can also message us on our Facebook Page, The CALL in White County.