Fostering Teens

Image courtesy The Breakfast Club movie official Facebook Page

by Susan Ripley, Director of Foster Home Licensing

“I could never foster a teenager."

I’ve heard it time and time again during my twenty two years working in child welfare. Why are people so afraid of teenagers?  We were ALL teenagers at one point…is that why you don’t think you can do it?  Because you’re afraid of a child like yourself?  I have met some of THE most amazing teens during my career. These kids are earning athletic and academic scholarships to college, they excel in their high school sports and community clubs…but they couldn’t do this without a caring foster parent by their side to support them every step of the way.

A Common Misconception

There is a misconception that all teenagers in foster care are “troublemakers”, have criminal histories, or are in foster care because of something THEY did. This is absolutely not true.  Children are placed in foster care when their caregiver could not adequately provide for their safety and well-being and there was no appropriate placement available with a relative or non-relative. 

We must approach the teen years with the mindset that the brain is still developing. 

Our youth need us to stand by them and support them through this very important time in their life. Time and time again, there may have been instances where a youth did not have an adult there to help process or talk about an experience in their life.  This not having someone to talk to may result in trouble at school for some of our teens, or even instances involving law enforcement, creating reputations about our children that are simply not accurate.

Image source: Saved by the Bell's Facebook Page

Education is Key

We must educate our community that their generalizations and assumptions about these youth in foster care are wrong! 

These youth have the POTENTIAL to be amazing, successful, productive adults...

...if YOU step in to provide your support.

Need some examples of former foster youth who are thriving now?

  • Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-Apartheid leader
  • Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens Football player for whom the movie “The Blind Side” was based
  • George "Babe" Ruth, baseball legend
  • Marilyn Monroe, the silver screen's most iconic star
  • John Lennon, member of the Beatles
  • Cher, iconic singer and actress
  • Victoria Rowell, Actress (Days of Our Lives, The Cosby Show)
  • Alonzo Mourning, NBA Basketball star.
  • Dave Pelzer, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author
  • Eddie Murphy, Comedian and Actor
  • Malcolm X, Activist
  • Dan O-Brien, Olympic Gold Medalist - Track
  • Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Rap Pioneer (also known as Run-DMC)

Can you be an advocate or listening ear for a teen?

Will you stand shoulder to shoulder in their defense and clap the loudest at their recitals?


Top Reasons to Foster Teens from Heartland for Children on Vimeo.

To Find Out More 

Contact Heartland for Children at (863) 519-8900 x 289 to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Polk, Hardee or Highlands counties or to reserve your spot at any of our monthly, free Foster Parent Infomation Nights.