The is a great need for families to foster and adopt older youth. It is a constant challenge that those of us in child welfare deal with. During various recruitment events and other types of meetings, we often speak about how long too many kiddos, age 12+, are lingering in the system. The challenge is to get people to understand that older youth in the system are just as “adoptable” as young children.
I get it. My husband and I fostered infants. This was our desire. There’s nothing wrong with it. It still fulfills a need. However, as we get older and as our children age, IF we were to ever foster again or adopt, we would absolutely consider older youth.
Could YOU adopt a teen? Maybe so. Here’s an article I wrote for Adoption.com regarding this very subject. Click this link to read more: Could YOU adopt a teen?
Oh, friends. Writing this article broke my heart. Working in child welfare, I’ve always been aware of some of the struggles that older youth face both in the system and once they age out of foster care (U.S.), but I never really took a hard a look at the statistics.
In my home state, I have seen a change in the way cases are handled. We are putting more of an effort in developing safety plans to keep families intact. We are aiming for and making increased placements with relatives and others who know the children. The number of kids entering care has dropped significantly in my county. However, there is still older youth who are aging out – whether prepared or not.
They face homelessness, pregnancies, risk of exploitation, and lack of resources. These are just a few of the risks they deal with. If you’d like to learn more, read this What Happens to Kids Who Age out of Foster Care.
If you want to help, consider contacting your local child welfare agency or advocacy group. Get involved. Become a foster parent or a mentor. There are a lot of ways that YOU can make a difference!