At Omni, many of the calls we receive are from prospective parents who are interested in fostering or adopting a baby.
But what we need most are people who are willing to serve as foster parents for teenagers, especially in rural parts of the states we serve, including Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
In particular, we need therapeutic foster parents, aka treatment foster care parents. That is, those who want to care for teenagers with emotional, behavioral, social or medical issues.
Being a therapeutic foster parent to a teenager can be an enormous challenge, but many of our parents say it’s the most rewarding thing they have ever done.
Reasons to Foster a Teenager
Fostering a teenager is an opportunity to guide them on the road to a positive life outcome.
1. Safety, Security and Stability: First and foremost, you can provide them with a safe place to live, and serve as someone they can trust and talk to about their experiences, past and present.
You can also show them what a “normal” home life is like. Teens in foster care typically haven’t experienced things as ordinary as cooking meals with mom or having dinner as a family.
By giving them a chance to trust someone, you can teach them that they don’t need to “run” when they get scared, and show them that they are loved just for being themselves.
2. Life Coaching: You can also prepare them for adulthood by serving as a life model and life coach.
- This includes helping them learn how to build relationships and plan for a career, while also teaching them life skills large and small, like:
- How to cook
- How to wash and fold laundry
- How to communicate with others
- How to fill out a job application
- How to budget How to build relationships
- How to save money
In short, you can make a difficult time better, while also giving them the tools to pursue their hobbies and follow their dreams.
Challenges of Parenting a Therapeutic Foster Care Teen
In many respects, caring for a teen in therapeutic foster care is not unlike parenting your average teenager. That is, they may be prone to getting angry or depressed, or struggle to make friends or keep up in school. They are likely trying to determine their identity, just like every other teen.
But a teen who has been in therapeutic foster care has likely lived in a group home or other child care institution or come from another non-family setting, and their past experiences may affect how they act or respond to situations. For example, they may be accustomed to environments where emotions are expressed in extreme or inappropriate ways, or where they don’t feel the freedom to express their emotions or feelings.
As we noted in Foster Care – Therapeutic vs. Traditional, many of these teenagers have experienced extraordinary loss or trauma and most have struggled to succeed in other environments.
Many others are developmentally delayed or medically fragile, so the need for regular visits to doctors and therapists is common.But as a therapeutic foster care parent you receive additional support and services beyond what is required for traditional foster care, including added financial support and continuing education.
Rewards of Parenting a Therapeutic Foster Care Teen
The rewards of fostering a teenager are immeasurable. Instead of aging out of the foster care system with no parent or family to guide them into adulthood, you’ll be there to watch a teenager grow into an adult and a productive member of society.-
Along the way, you may have the opportunity to watch them:
- Be there when they get married, or have their first child
- Graduate High School
- Go to college, graduate from university
- Determine career
You’ll also be there to give them life advice, while changing your own life for the better in the process.
Ready to Begin the Application and Approval Process?
Want to learn more about the benefits of being a foster parent? Or if you’re ready to begin the application and approval process, complete our information request form or contact an Omni Visions office in your home state.
Since 1991, Omni has specialized in providing training and support to caregivers so foster children can reach their fullest potential. Together we can provide a brighter future for our children. Give us a call toll-free at (800) 851-6108.