New Hanover County Teens in Foster Care
Teens in foster care are a special group of young people who face unique challenges in regards to placement and gaining the life skills needed to become self-sufficient, successful adults. Many families find that parenting their teen-aged children is trying at times and are hesitant to foster a teen for fear of behaviors they may encounter. This hesitancy leaves many teens with few safe living options, often resulting in placement in a group home and/or out of their home community. Sadly, a change in schools and friends for a teenager can have significant educational and emotional impacts. For teens, leaving their team sports, extra- curricular activities, friends and educational track at school can feel devastating. We need every citizen’s commitment to keeping teens involved in healthy activities in their home community!
Our greatest gap in available foster parents is families willing to foster teens.
As of September 2009, there were 95 children aged 13 or older in New Hanover County DSS custody.
Of the teenagers currently in custody of NHC DSS, 16% are placed with relatives.
Of those not placed with relatives, 65% reside out of New Hanover County and 35% reside in county. 64% of those teens are placed in family foster homes while 39% are placed in group care.
From 2007-2008, over 72 youth have turned 18 (or "aged out") while in New Hanover County DSS custody. Out of these 72 plus youth, 25% have been homeless in the past year, 47% have a high school diploma, 5% have their GED, and 22% are still in high school.
NC LINKS is a program which helps prepare youth in foster care for successful adulthood by providing supports, resources and guidance both before and after the young person turns 18. The name LINKS is not an acronym, and therefore does not "stand" for anything. Instead, it is a word that captures the need to build a network of relevant services with youth so that they will have ongoing connections with family, friends, mentors, the community, employment, education, financial assistance, skills training, and other resources to facilitate the transition to adulthood.
By becoming a foster parent for a teen, you can help a youth:
Earn sufficient income to meet their daily needs
Live in a safe and stable place
Attain academic or vocational/educational goals
Connect to a positive personal support network
Avoid illegal / high risk behaviors
Postpone parenthood until financially established and emotionally mature
Have access to routine mental health, health and dental health care
NHCDSS LINKS provides a variety of supports to youth in and out of foster care…
From 10/01/09 to 9/30/10 New Hanover County DSS helped 23 young adults who “aged out” of Foster Care go on to secondary schooling through LINKS funding.
Transitional Funds: Funding for youth eligible to be used in achieving positive outcomes. Examples of this include: tutoring, work uniforms, furnishing apartments, bicycles for transportation to/from work, etc.
(Strong Able Youth Speaking Out) a statewide association of youth ages 14 to 24, who are or have been in the foster care system. Their mission is to improve the foster care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to these youth. More information is available at www.saysoinc.org
LifeGuide Program: provides mentors to youth ages 16 to 21 to develop independent living skills.
Housing Funds: Funding available for rent deposits, rent or down payments. Must be currently between 18 and their 21st birthday and turned 18 in custody.
Education and Training Vouchers - ETV:
The NC ETV Program offers funds to foster youth and former foster youth (must have been in custody after age 17) to enable them to attend secondary education institutions. Students may receive up to $5000 a year between their 17th and 23rd birthday as they pursue higher education. The funds may be used for tuition, books or qualified living expenses. www.statevoucher.org
Financial assistance for any youth who aged out of foster care at age 18 or who was adopted after age 12 if they are attending one of the NC state colleges or universities including community colleges. Funding for tuition, books, fees, housing, etc. www.ncreach.org
Medicaid: Any youth who aged out of foster care at age 18 is eligible until their 21st birthday (must apply to all programs). Apply at your local DSS.
Resources and Referrals:
The LINKS coordinator and /or your social worker is available to assist with or make referrals for counseling, job applications, resume building, educational services, etc.
YOU CAN HELP!
For more information on fostering teens, contact Alice Moore
at New Hanover County Department of Social Services, firstname.lastname@example.org
or (910) 798-3566.