Helping Your Birth and Other Children Get Along

By Mellicent Blythe , Fostering Perspectives

https://fosteringperspectives.org/fp_v11n2/blythe.htm

One aspect of fostering that does not get much study is how best to integrate the children in foster care into a family’s rhythm of life and just how crucial this is for the well-being of everyone in the home. This article reveals findings from a study along with some implications that can be used in practical ways.

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Kings Dominion Amusement Park!

By Fay Evans

Our first field trip last July was a big success! We invited young ladies and young men from several small organizations –All Things New (sponsored by Patricia Holland); AGAPE of NC’s Young Adult Foster Home in Raleigh (where I’m the Foster Parent); PEACH Outreach (also sponsored by me); and Center Piece (sponsored by Sherita Taylor, my Goddaughter and a resident of GA).

When asked if they wanted to go to the Gospel Joy Fest to partake in a Christian concert, all our young people jumped at the opportunity! The teenagers also spent hours in the water park (we were sure they had grown fish gills). My daughter, Shalita (a resident of VA), is still a kid at heart; so she hung with them on most of the rides. How exciting it was when they would rush back to us after a ride to share their experiences!

~ Looking at all their joyful expressions reminded me why we do this. I like to call it fuel for the heart. ~

One young lady told us how she felt like she would faint on each roller coaster and then demonstrated how she looked. What a performance she put on -- we were weak from laughter! Watching all our teens show & tell how loud the others screamed on a ride was priceless! Even the quietest one in our group opened up from her shyness to express how much fun she was having . . . such memories created!

Some of the girls chose to spend time exploring the park in different areas but, for the most part, they all stayed together as a group. Now that also spoke volumes to me. As we all know, most teenagers just want to do their own thing or hang out with their own cliques. (They may have chosen to stay together because the park was so large and could have been a little overwhelming or because they actually bonded together. I choose to think it’s the latter!)

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Wonderfully, there were only a few disagreements that day -- like differences on where we should eat or what time we would go to the next ride. You can just imagine hearing any teenager declare, “But we stood in line for your ride last time.” So, we must admit that life is not perfect every moment -- but we can always use the opportunity to share God’s love.

Overall, the girls and guys did love their time together -- laughing and joking, as young people do! We enjoyed the park until about 10 PM that evening. Only two or three of the youth in our group had ever experienced an amusement park of this caliber. So, this trip was truly something to remember! I thank all who helped make this awesome trip possible!

The Christian Case Against the Orphanage

Children need a stable family, not institutional care.

Christianity Today

By Krish Kandiah

“No matter how well run an orphanage is, we really do not want our children to grow up there; it can never be as a child growing up in a family with mother and father.” There is so much need around the world, good orphanages and bad, but still no substitute for the family. Please take a few minutes to read this story from Christianity Today at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/august-web-only/christian-case-against-orphanage-kandiah-gls.html

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How To Make Initial Placements Easier

By Rochelle Johnson

FosteringPerspectives.org

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“The initial placement of a child in our home is often an exciting time. For many of us, it is the first introduction to a young person that will be living with us for days, months, or sometimes years. In a perfect world, the logistics of welcoming that child into our family would be clearly presented and carefully organized so we could focus on the important goal of making the child’s transition as easy and smooth as possible.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Initial placements can be rocky, hurried, and filled with informational gaps about a child’s history, basic necessities, and emotional needs. Here are a few tips and tools to help alleviate stress on foster parents, with the ultimate goal of helping you focus on what we as foster parents have all set out to do: provide kids with a nurturing and safe environment to help them grow and heal.”

Read the rest of this article for 5 steps that can help make initial placements much easier. http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1649

How Will I Remember My Life When Moving From One Home To Another?

By Donna Foster

FosteringPerspectives.org

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“A life book is essential in helping a child who has experienced trauma. And all children in foster care have experienced trauma. We need good, warm stories to balance the difficult times in our lives. And when we forget, we need those who were there to remind us of them.” Read more about life books, how they help a foster child and how to make them at http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1656.

FAQ's

By Jordan Upton

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a foster parent? We at AGAPE would love for you to be involved! Before getting started, here are some general requirements and frequently asked questions that may help you make the amazing leap into the world of fostering.

General Requirements:

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  •  You must be at least 21 years old. There is no top age limit.

  •  You must be in good health.

  •  If married, you must have been married for at least two years.

  • Both parents are allowed to work outside the home.

  • You can be a single parent.

  • You must be a Christian.

    Frequently Asked Questions:
    1. Who are the children in need of foster care?

    Children placed in foster care are those that are temporarily removed from their birth family. This is sometimes due to the child being in an unsafe environment where they have faced abuse or neglect. Or, the child could have been surrendered to an adoption agency and, while waiting for the legal process to be completed, need a temporary home with a foster family. Children’s ages can range from a few days old up to eighteen years old. Sometimes it is a single child in need of a home and sometimes it is an entire family. Occasionally some children face serious medical concerns or physical maladies. Most foster children have experienced great emotional or physical trauma, which makes the need for them to be placed in a loving, caring, understanding home even greater.

2. How long are these children in foster care?

While every situation is unique, the average time spent in foster care through AGAPE of N.C. is eight months. Some children will spend a few days with a foster family and others will spend a few years. Both during the licensure procedure and when a specific child is being presented to a foster family, the potential length of stay will be fully discussed, and the foster family will participate very directly in making the decision of what is right for them. Foster care is by definition temporary, but the length varies with every child and his/her circumstances.

3. What happens if I become too attached to my foster child that I do not want to let them go?

Bonding and becoming attached is a natural and necessary part of fostering. Without these things the child would feel unwanted and unloved. Foster families feel as if they are sending a piece of their heart with their foster child when they leave. This is an important part of the process and your caseworker is sensitive to this. AGAPE will help you prepare for this sense of loss and how to adjust after your foster child has left. AGAPE believes that God has given foster parents an even bigger heart so they are able to give so much of their love away to these children in need. If you feel as if you would be too easily attached to a foster child and would experience a tremendous loss when your foster child is placed in a permanent home, AGAPE feels as if you would be the best candidate to participate in this loving service.

4. What is involved in the licensure process?

AGAPE uses state regulations and agency policies to ensure prospective families are a right fit for becoming foster parents. Foster families submit an application and will be put in touch with a caseworker. This caseworker will begin the evaluation process and preparation period, usually lasting three months. Additionally, the caseworker will spend many hours interviewing the family in the AGAPE offices as well as in the potential family home. Home inspections and background checks are given. In the end, the caseworker will assign a specific number of foster children to the home (one to five), a specific age range (from birth to 18 years old), specific gender when applicable, and the family will be informed of any special needs or circumstances for the children if the family feels they are equipped to handle such situations.

5. What if I have never fostered before? How will I know what to do?

During the licensure process families will undergo a minimum of 30 hours of training for the specific type, situation, and age of children in which the family is placed. While fostering, the families also receive more training. Most importantly, the family is never on their own. Their caseworker is always available and will visit on a regular basis. Additionally, the AGAPE staff is on call and available 24 hours a day, ready and willing to help with any question or concern that arises.

6. Is this a paid or volunteer position?

This is strictly a volunteer-based process. The agency does provide a set reimbursement per month per child to cover expenses directly associated with the child. This money is not treated as income by the IRS and does not need to be reported since it is

reimbursement of actual expenses. Foster families report that this is an adequate amount to meet basic needs. With older children there is often a clothing allowance once or twice a year. The foster home is not responsible for medical expenses related to the child.

7. How can I get started?

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or have additional questions please contact AGAPE at 919-673-7816 for a no obligation information meeting. This meeting will serve to help you “count the cost” of such service, and to decide if this is right for your family. At that time an application will be made available to you. Please visit AGAPE’s website at www.agapeofnc.org for more information and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with news and relevant information.

Be A Pam

By Melissa Holland

Last week I had the privilege of visiting with a woman who is known in her County for her generosity and compassion.  She believes that we are put on earth to be of service to others, and she lives out this belief every day.  Pam, who is in her 70s and has grown children, saw a need five years ago and decided to take action.

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Julie, who was 11 months old at the time, had been removed from her home due to her parents' drug and alcohol abuse which caused them to neglect her care.  Before her retirement, Pam had worked in the child support office of the county, and knew well the ins and outs of foster care.  The people involved in placing Julie felt that it would be difficult to find a family willing to take her due to her parents' and grandparents' connections to drug dealers in the area.  As it turns out, they were right to worry.  Several families expressed interest in Julie only to refuse to take her once they found out about her background.  

Enter Pam.  Pam told me that she had missed having children around at Christmas because it seemed so much less exciting without them.  Of course, that wasn't her main reason for wanting Julie.  Pam said that she feared that Julie would not have any chance at a successful life if she didn't have the stability and opportunities that Pam could provide for her.  While she could only guess what Julie might have suffered, she soon discovered that Julie suffers from PTSD.  She does not want to be alone.  Recently, Pam set up a playroom for Julie, but she refuses to play in it.  She always plays in the room where everyone else is, and creates a "barricade" to protect herself in case she needs it. 

Julie will attend a co-op school this year where she can be just another little girl.  Not the daughter of parents who are notorious in the county.  Not a girl who will be bullied or looked down on for things she cannot control.  A girl with a loving family who is curious about nature, who loves animals, who lives life to the fullest. 

Pat loved Julie even before they became a family.  Over time, that love has grown even though it has been tested many times.  When I left Pam's house, I wondered how many Julies are waiting for their Pam to show up.  Some Julies are still children, but some are all grown up.  All of them deserve a chance to know what it is to be loved unconditionally.  To know that God loves them and that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for them. 

As Jesus followers, we should keep watch for the Julies.  Maybe God put them in our path for us to be a Pam.  

*Names have been changed




What is Kinship Care?

Leah Tripp

When talking about foster care and adoption, it can be easy to get lost among the many labels that apply to different forms of care. Kinship care is a term that is often used within the world of foster care, but may not be fully understood.

Kinship care occurs when a child who has been removed from their parents is placed under the care and supervision of another relative (stepparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, etc), or in some states, under the care of a close family friend (who are often called fictive kin).

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In many situations, kinship care is the desired option, as it allows the children who are being removed from their parents to retain their connection with their family. While kinship care is not always an option, it often provides the child with a greater sense of stability while still allowing them to maintain cultural traditions, which makes it a preferable situation in many cases.

Since kinship care often involves a legal and/or biological tie to the child, the eligibility process varies based on case. In some situations, kinship care is “formal,” meaning that the child(ren) involved are legally removed from the home of their biological parents and taken into the custody of the State. This requires the child welfare agency, along with the court system, to find a caregiver to place the child with, beginning with immediate relatives. Because this process is intimately tied to the legal system, formal kinship caregivers must complete a training and licensure process, while also providing financial compensation and other supportive services.

In other situations, kinship care can be informal, or “voluntary,” meaning that the State has not taken legal custody of the children, but the biological parents of the child, typically under the advisement of child welfare agencies, have voluntarily placed their children with a relative. Custody status may change over time in these situations, but at the start, voluntary kinship care is defined by the fact that biological

parents have willingly temporary relinquished their full-time care of the child. Because the legal process of voluntary care is not as strenuous, many voluntary kinship caregivers do not have to go through the training and licensure process.

The ultimate goal of kinship care is reunification with the biological parents. However, the return of the child to his or her original home is not always an option. In these cases, many kinship caregivers are given the option to adopt the child they have been caring for. As with any form of foster care or adoption, the primary goal of kinship care is to provide the safest and most stable environment for the child involved.

Helpful Books for Foster Children

Leah Tripp

Children who are in foster care often experience confusion and fear regarding the process of care, the trauma they have experienced, and the often temporary nature of the homes they are living in.

There are a wide variety of resources that help foster parents and mentors tackle the difficult topics of foster care. Below are three books that may be helpful for foster children of different age groups.

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Riley the Brave- Jess Sinarski (Ages 3-7)
Riley the Brave f ollows the story of brave bear cub, Riley, as he learns to understand complicated feelings like fear, shame, and sadness. Riley spends time with many different animal friends, and reflects on how to process anger in a healthy way by using his words. The book also addresses tough topics that are specific to foster children, such as trusting adults, food insecurity, and how to talk about trauma.

The book’s colorful illustrations paired with fun animal characters will allow children to talk about fear and courage in a way that still allows them to feel safe and comfortable.

Locomotion- Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 8-12)
Woodson’s Locomotion follows is the story of eleven-year-old Lonnie, who is living in a foster home after the death of his parents. With the help of his foster mother, Miss Edna, and his teacher, Ms. Marcus, Lonnie learns to express his feelings through poetry. The book is told entirely through Lonnie’s poems, and covers complex topics such as loss, fear, separation from siblings, and the experiences of older boys in foster care.

Far from the Tree- Robin Benway (Ages 13+)
Benway’s 2017 novel explores the meaning of family through the lives of biological siblings Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, who, through foster care and adoption experiences, are living very different lives.

When Grace places her own daughter up for adoption, she starts looking for her biological family, and begins to form relationships with her younger sister, Maya and her older brother Joaquin. Maya, who has been adopted into a family that has its own set of problems, struggles to find her own identity and the family in which she feels she belongs. Joaquin, who has spent seventeen years in foster care, is skeptical of his sisters and of the world in general. Throughout the book, the three siblings learn about the different shapes that family can take, and how to love despite difficult circumstances.

These three books are a small sample of the wide array of literature available for foster children of all ages. For a more complete list of books with foster care themes, visit the link below:

https://bookriot.com/2016/05/27/childrens-books-foster-care-themes/

Understanding Trauma

Leah Tripp

Terms like “trauma” often conjure up images of terrible accidents, violence, or war in our minds. We tend to associate the concept of trauma with a singular event that inflicts deep psychological pain.

However, trauma can often be a product of ongoing negative experiences, and many children who have been adopted or are in foster care have experienced trauma of some kind. In order to love and care for these children in the healthiest way possible, it is important to understand the way trauma impacts emotional and psychological well-being.

Childhood trauma can be caused by a variety of situations, but most often hinges on experiences of abuse (verbal or physical) and neglect. Abuse and neglect have a long lasting impact on children due to the fact that these traumas occur while they are still cognitively developing.

Children who experience neglect and abuse during their formative years are receiving mixed messages regarding who to trust, what behavior is appropriate, and how to interact with people as a whole. The people they naturally trust (parents), have put them in danger in one way or another, thus making it difficult for them to identify what is safe and what is not.

In some instances, this instability can cause changes in a child’s brain structure. According to Counseling Today, children that are exposed to chronic neglect and abuse begin perceiving everything as a threat in order to defend themselves, which alters the prefrontal cortex. Their brain is constantly in “survival mode” rather than “learning mode,” which sometimes makes it more difficult for them to develop cognitive skills at a normal rate.

It is vital to understand that any child who has been removed from their biological parents has experienced trauma in some way. The severity of this trauma ranges based on situation, but it is there nonetheless.

Recent studies have shown that even infants, who are often deemed “too young to remember,” experience trauma.

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According to the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, unborn babies are capable of auditory processing as early as the second trimester. This means that when a child is born and then removed from the voice that they heard in utero, their brain experiences confusion and depravity.

While it is important to understand the instances and effects of trauma, it is also important to realize that the symptoms of emotional trauma can be decreased through coping strategies and interventions by the child’s caretakers.

While counseling and other professional interventions are highly recommended, emotional support on behalf of family members, foster parents, and adoptive parents is vital to helping a child who has experienced trauma.

Often, childhood trauma is a result of repeated patterns of instability. Therefore, showing a child who has experienced trauma that they are in a safe, secure environment with people who love and care for them is integral to the process of growth and healing. If you’d like to be a part of providing a child with stability and safety, consider reaching out to AGAPE of North Carolina regarding foster care, adoption, or respite care.

For more information regarding childhood trauma and parenting, visit the U.S. Children’s Bureau for resources.

Giving Life: Father Receives Kidney From Adopted Daughter

Leah Tripp

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27 years ago, Billy Houze and his wife, Karen, adopted their daughter DeLauren McKnight from foster care, giving her a new family and a new life.

27 years later, McKnight is returning the gesture in a miraculous way: she’s saving her father’s life.

In 2016, Houze received the devastating news that his kidneys were failing. His prognosis was not favorable; if he didn’t receive a kidney transplant in five years, he wouldn’t survive.

The 64 year old pastor and father of five immediately began searching for matches within his own family, knowing that he may not live long enough to get moved up on the transplant list.

Houze’s biological sons were tested, to no avail. Three years passed with no match.

McKnight, who “never thought [she] would be a match because [she] was adopted,” decided to get tested just in case. On February 1, she received a life-changing call at work, confirming that she was a match and could donate her kidney to her father.

McKnight called her father right away, telling Good Morning America that she wanted him to be the first person who heard the news.

“I called and said ‘Daddy, I have to tell you something. I’m a match.’”

McKnight explains that the phone call with her father was very moving, saying that she was shaking as she told Houze she was a match.

“He stopped talking and he was crying...It was overwhelming”

Houze, who McKnight lovingly calls her Superman, says that he is immensely proud of his daughter.

“She told me, ‘Daddy, you thought you were saving my life pulling me from foster care but in actuality, you were saving my life so I could save yours later.’”

The father-daughter duo is expected to undergo the transplant surgery in the coming weeks, and are excited for the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life alongside one another and their family for years to come.

Foster Care FAQs

Leah Tripp

As of 2017, there are 10,500 children in the North Carolina foster care system. This number has been steadily increasing over time, and the need for foster parents in North Carolina is evident.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, AGAPE of North Carolina would love to help you begin that journey. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding foster parenting and AGAPE’s role in foster care.

1. What are AGAPE’s requirements for foster parenting?

  • Foster parents must be at least 21 years old

  • Foster parents must be in good health

  • Foster parents must be Christians

  • If married, foster parents must have been married for at least two years.

  •  Both parents are permitted to work outside the home.

  •  Foster parents can be single parents.

    2. What is the process for licensure?

    AGAPE abides by state regulations and agency guidelines to match children with foster families. Families who are interested in fostering will submit an application and will be contacted by a caseworker.

    The caseworker assigned to you and/or your family will begin the evaluation process, which will typically take about three months. This process will include interviews, home inspections, and background checks.

    At the end of the process, the caseworker will give your family guidelines regarding the number of children that can be in the home, the ages of the child(ren), and any specifications regarding gender or special needs.

    3. What children are in foster care?

    Most children in foster care have been removed temporarily from their homes due to a threat to their safety (i.e. abuse or neglect). Additionally, some children in foster care have been given to an adoption agency, and are in foster care during the legal process of terminating parental rights.

    The age range of children in foster care can span from newborn to 18 years old. Some children are placed individually, while others are part of a sibling group. The majority of foster children have experienced some type of physical and/or emotional trauma, and therefore are in need of a stable, loving environment, even if that home is temporary.

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4. How long will the placement be?

The time spent in foster care varies from child to child. Some children are in care for a few days, while others are in care for years. The average AGAPE placement is in care for about eight months. During the licensing process, potential foster families will be able to discuss what placement lengths are preferred for them and their family.

5. How will I prepare to foster for the first time?

You will not be walking into your first placement unprepared. During the licensing process, potential foster parents will complete 30 hours of training that is specific to the age and situation of the child who will be placed.

After fostering begins, AGAPE staff is still on-call to help with any questions or concerns, and caseworkers will routinely be visiting and checking in with you and your family to provide guidance.

6. Is there financial compensation?

While foster parenting is a volunteer-based experience, AGAPE does provide reimbursement per month, per child to compensate for expenses directly related to the child and his or her care.

This reimbursement is meant to cover the basic needs of the child, and may change depending on age or situation (for example, older children may receive a clothing allowance). Additionally, foster families are not responsible for paying for the child’s medical expenses.

7. How do I get started?

If you, or someone you know is interested in foster care, contact AGAPE of NC at 919-673-7816, or visit our website at agapeofnc.org.

Your first meeting with AGAPE is not an obligatory commitment to foster care, and will consist of talking through information to figure out if fostering is right for you and your family.

We would love to hear from you!

Staff Spotlight: Kia Carter

Leah Tripp

Kia Carter is passionate about community.

As a social worker with AGAPE of North Carolina for a little over 2 years, Carter has seen just how important relationships, community, and connection are within foster families, but also within the agency itself.

Carter’s steadfast belief in the life-giving quality of community has led her to implement several initiatives, new to AGAPE this year, to nurture growth and connection among foster families.

One of these initiatives combines education and technology, as Carter is attempting to create an online study book for foster parents who are in the process of receiving their continuing education hours. Carter’s career as a social worker has shown her just how helpful support programs like this can be for busy families.

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“I know it can be hard to get the 10 hours that they need every year to continue their licensing, so I want to try and make it as convenient as I can with information that I know will be helpful for all of our foster parents.”

Carter also speaks to the importance of AGAPE’s quarterly connection gatherings as a means for foster families to support one another. These meetings allow foster parents within the agency to meet one another and share advice and encouragement. Carter explains that these meetings allow foster parents to support one another through challenges, and celebrate together in victories.

In addition to providing community for current foster families, these gatherings also give Carter hope for the future in terms of implementing a mentoring program for new foster parents. She explains that while she, as a social worker, can offer practical advice and experience, she realizes the value in hearing from someone who has truly been where you are.

“When you have someone who has gone before you and done what you are in the process of doing it is nice to have someone to talk to that gets it.”

While the concept of a mentoring program is still in the works, Carter explains that any program that creates community has its root in the gospel, and therefore, is worth creating and cultivating within an organization like AGAPE, which Carter says functions as a family in itself. AGAPE functions like a tight-knit family, and therefore seeks to create communities for those involved with its services.

Carter ends by sharing her ultimate motivation for her upcoming initiatives: her faith.

“Community is life-giving—and essential to following Christ. Scripture says that’s because we’re better together than we are alone.”

How Can My Church Serve Foster Children and Families?

Leah Tripp

While not everyone within a church will be called to be a full-time foster parent, there are other ways that your church can care for foster families and show Christ’s love to children in foster care. In addition to praying fervently for foster children and their families, churches can also serve in the following ways. 

Respite Care Teams

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Respite care providers are trained individuals who can offer babysitting services to full-time foster care parents. Respite care is important to the overall wellness of foster parents and their children, and provides a qualified, consistent support system for families. AGAPE of North Carolina offers training courses for respite parents. If someone in your church or small group is a full-time foster parent, consider supporting them through respite care. 

Mentoring

There are several programs in North Carolina and across the country that recruit mentors for older children and young adults in foster care. Mentors can make connections with foster youth and guide them in a variety of ways, including tutoring, job skills, college readiness, emotional wellness, and many other healthy lifestyle habits. Encourage your church family to serve foster children by signing up for a mentoring program. 

AGAPE of NC is licensing Young Adult Foster Homes that are in need of mentors from local congregations. To learn more about this opportunity, email Mary Arnold at marnold@agapeofnc.org. 

Care Packages

Care packages can be helpful for both foster children and potential foster families. There are a variety of organizations that sponsor care packages for children in care. Programs like Comfort Cases and Project Shoe Box provide care packages and/or suitcases with hygiene items, books, school supplies, and toys to children and youth in foster care. Churches can donate supplies and/or completed care packages to organizations such as these. 

Care packages can also be helpful for foster parents. Foster care placements can often come at short notice, which means new foster parents may be lacking in supplies for the child they just received. Consider having items like diapers, gift cards, and other necessities ready for any foster families in your community or congregation. 

The “Little Things” 

If there’s one thing I’ve heard consistently from my conversations with people involved in foster care, it’s that scheduling and time management can be really difficult. Foster parenting is a time commitment, which can make it easy for smaller tasks to fall to the wayside. If you know someone who is a foster parent, offer to bring them a hot meal, cut their grass, or pick up their groceries. Small acts of kindness go a long way, and there’s no telling how grateful someone will be to have the “little things” taken care of. 



What Happens After 18?: Aging Out of Foster Care

Leah Tripp

I remember the excitement I felt leading up to March of 2016.

I was turning 18, and I felt like I had the whole world in front of me. I was a senior in high school, I knew where I was going to college, and I felt like I had plenty of options open to me as I moved forward into legal “adulthood.”

18th birthdays should be full of promise and expectation, but for many young adults in America, turning 18 marks a time of great uncertainty.

Each year, over 23,000 children age out of the US foster care system.

Aging out of foster care can be traumatic for a variety of reasons. From a logistical standpoint, many children who age out of foster care become effectively homeless the day they turn 18 if they do not have a support system that is willing to provide them care and housing. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, homelessness impacts 20% of youth who age out of foster care.

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For those who avoid the immediate threat of homelessness, there are a range of other obstacles related to employment, education, and emotional health.

Youth who age out of foster care go to college at a significantly lower rate, as they may not have adults who are willing to guide them through application processes, academic requirements, and required testing.

Their lack of participation in post-secondary education is not due to lack of ability, but to lack of awareness.

In terms of employment, 50% of foster children who age out of the system will have gainful employment by the age of 24. Statistically, the other half of these youth will struggle to maintain stable jobs. The lack of consistent employment can contribute to cyclic patterns that keep foster youth from being able to own their own homes, pursue educational opportunities, or achieve career advancements.

Ultimately, foster youth are in great need of those willing to guide them, care for them, and invest in their lives and growth.

This care can come in the form of full-time foster parenting, mentoring, respite care, or volunteering.

Many Young Adult Foster Homes are beginning to address the challenges associated with aging out by providing care and guidance to foster youth ages 18-21.

These homes allow those who have technically “aged out” to have time to develop necessary skills and a support system in a familial setting.

If you are interested in learning more about helping foster youth, or about Young Adult Foster Homes, visit agapeofnc.org

5 Myths About Foster Care

By Leah Tripp

The conversation surrounding foster care can often contain misconceptions or inaccuracies that can make fostering seem intimidating or impossible for potential foster parents. The following article will debunk five common myths associated with foster care. 

Myth 1: “I have to be married to foster a child” 

There is no marital requirement associated with foster parenting. In fact, according to The Foster Coalition, 30% of foster parents are single. Foster parents can (and do) come from a variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and stages of life. To learn more about what AGAPE of NC requires of foster parents, click here

Myth 2: “I have to be wealthy” or “it’s expensive to adopt”

In contrast to some international and private domestic adoptions, the process of adopting through foster care is essentially free. Many agencies, such as AGAPE of NC, offer free trainings, financial reimbursement, and ongoing support for foster families. In addition, many states and government programs provide tax credits or reduced costs for foster children and their families.  

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Myth 3: “I have to be willing to adopt to be a foster parent”

While adoption can be an option for foster parents, it is not a requirement. The ideal goal for foster children is permanency, which can be found in the form of reunification with parents, kinship care, long-term fostering, or adoption. Respite care is also an option for individuals who are interested in providing short-term care only.  

Myth 4: “I need to have children/parenting experience” 

While parents with children are more than welcome to become foster parents, there are many foster parents who do not have children of their own, and have never parented prior to their participation in the foster care system. Many foster care organizations, including AGAPE, provide training for potential foster parents, as well as ongoing support groups and sessions for new foster parents.

Myth 5: “Foster parents have no say in which children are placed in their home”

Foster parents reserve the right to say “no” to any potential placement for any reason. AGAPE, and many other foster care agencies, also allow parents to express preferences regarding the children they feel comfortable accepting as placements. Foster parents will never be forced to accept a child into their care. 

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there is no equation or situation that creates the “perfect” foster parent. Children in foster care need stability, compassion, and support. If you feel that you can provide a loving home for a child in foster care, please visit https://www.agapeofnc.org/foster-care/ or call AGAPE of NC at (919)673-7816.