7:31 AM Wed, Sep 17, 2008 | Permalink
Yesterday, I interviewed a family who adopted an eight and nine year old from Foster Care. Their story was inspirational. But the truth is 20,000 kids age out of the foster care system each year. Texas Child Protective Services are trying to support these kids by offering lots of services to prepare them for the real world. Debra Pohlman, the Executive Director for Child Protective Services, shared with me some of these types of services which I have listed below.
Although these programs are wonderful - much more needs to be done to get these kids out of care and into permanent homes. There is too much emphasis on "reuniting" kids with family members - even if these family members continue to abuse and neglect the children. Don't get me wrong - I am all for second chances, but if you've got a mom who's a six-time-heroin abuser, living in a crack shack - something has to give. These kids deserve more than hopping around from one foster care family to another. Let's get them adopted and get them into permanent homes. These are not throw-away children.
Circles of Support
Circles of Support involves facilitated meetings with the youth, caseworker, foster parents and caring committed adults that the youth has identified, such as teachers, coaches, mentors, counselors. Adults are asked to commit to supporting the youth through aging out of care and beyond. Tasks are assigned to all to support the youth.
Extended Care/Return to Care
Youth can remain in placement to the age of 22 to pursue a high school diploma and up to age 21 to complete vocational training. Return to care is a fairly new program for youth aged out of care 18 to 20 years old. They can return to care up to age 22 to obtain a high school diploma or GED or up to age 21 for a vocational or technical program. The young person must make a commitment to achieve these goals.
Tuition and Fee Waivers
Tuition and Fee Waivers are for eligible youth who have aged out of foster care or were adopted from foster can at 14 years of age or older can have tuition and fees waived to cover the cost of public post-secondary colleges, universities and vocational programs.
Why Not Me Campaign
The "Why Not Me" campaign is designed to encourage members of the community to become adoptive parents for our older children and youth. Teens draw on the relationship with their families for strength and support long after they turn 18. Without the bonds of adoption, a young adult has no such safety net. (www.AdoptChildren.org) If adoption isn't the direction you wish to take right now then you can become foster parents for older children/youth or become a mentor/caring committed adult for a youth through TRAC (www.traconline.com).