Many times teens in foster care don’t receive consistent support, encouragement, and nurturing. Here are 21 phrases to uplift, inspire, and celebrate teens in foster care. Share some today.
SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month – March 2013
Nick N. graduated with his IEP diploma in 2010 and then attended school an additional year to receive his regular diploma in 2011. He is an avid fan of NASCAR, the New York Giants and the New York Yankees. Nicki enjoys being outdoors. He works with a local landscaping company where his duties include lawn maintenance, weed-whacking, creating stone ways, and plowing. Nicki entered foster care in 2008 and has had the privilege of remaining in the same foster home since that time. He has been described as a kind, “old soul” who has a heart of gold. He is very personable and has matured into a hard worker who loves his family and friends and cherishes his relationships. Nick has created a strong bond with his foster family, caseworker and KidsPeace family.
Nick became a Volunteer Fire Fighter during his senior of high school in 2011. He was exposed to this industry with his father and other family members and set a goal to join. Nick is also OSHA, CPR and First Aid trained and has a badge with a fire number.
FACT – There is no such thing as a perfect family.
Every relationship and every family has challenges. Miscommunication, temporary disconnection, hurt feelings, and anger are normal. It’s how we deal with these issues that matters most. The goal should be to ensure that we don’t let them take over our lives and ruin our relationships.
When we think of the families of children in foster care we almost always think of horrific family relationships. The truth is that children enter the foster care system for a variety of reasons – abuse, neglect, abandonment, death, inability to locate biological relatives, mental illness, and other health conditions.
FACT – Children and teens in foster care have experienced trauma
Years ago I was employed as a Family Support Worker in a community-based organization in a section of the city with the highest poverty, teen pregnancy, HIV/STI, drop out, and unemployment rates. Before each family received services I was required to do a home visit. Some of my clients were teen parents and others were grandparents raising their grandkids. Some were involved with child welfare and others were at risk of homelessness due to health conditions. Despite the background or situation of any of my clients, every home visit started the same way.
1. Ring doorbell or knock on door
2. Greet person who comes to door and introduce myself
3. Wait to be invited to come inside or ask if I can enter
4. Wait to be invited to sit down
We have become a society that sensationalizes pessimism. The local and national news grabs our attention with depressing or shocking stories. Controversial headlines lace the front pages of our favorite internet search engines. Political progress has been bogged down with threats of crisis and doom. Even childhood nursery rhymes have been turned into dark movies and TV shows. All of this negativity is damaging to our psych – It infiltrates our consciousness. [I personally sleep much better since I have made the decision not to watch the late night news.] Many times even when we speak we use language that is discouraging or fear-induced. For teens in foster care who are already struggling with fear, disappointment, or abandonment, being bombarded by negative messages can further hinder their emotional growth.
Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old, have not experienced consistent nurturing and stability, and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth face challenges to making a successful transition to adulthood. As adults, children who spent long periods of time in multiple foster care homes were more likely than other children to drop out of school, be unemployed, become incarcerated, and become young parents.
How do the words identity, mobile, and transient relate to the life or plight of teens in foster care? Do you have similar thoughts when you read the descriptions of family life below?
Manuella is a tenth grade student in foster care in the state of New York. Manuella loves photography, creative writing, soccer, and music.
Manuella is determined to complete high school and attend college in California. She has her eyes set on higher education in San Francisco. Manuella plans to become a professional photographer. She is undecided on her college course of study but her choices include fashion photography and sports photography. If Manuella chooses to pursue fashion photography she plans to work in Milan, Italy. If she decides to pursue sports photography she will move to Georgia or back to New York upon graduation.
Manuella is wise beyond her years. Her greatest piece of advice to other teens in foster care is to never give up – never give up on any future plans, don’t give up on school, and don’t give up on people who are trying to help you. She also wants other foster teens to understand that the world doesn’t have to end because you are just as good as everyone else. “Keep going and you will make it somewhere in life,” she says. “Never look down at your situation or the reason why you’re in care because it doesn’t define who you are but what you make of your future does!”