Being removed from your home is always stressful. Youth in foster care often have few personal belongings and carry the items they do have in trash bags as they are shuffled from place to place. Very often sheer survival is the ultimate goal.
As a society, we stereotype all teens as difficult, selfish, or obnoxious. Teens in the foster care system carry an added burden of past abuses, disappointments, and fears. Teens in the foster care system need extra support and stability in order to overcome their past and thrive but older youth are more likely to be placed in institutional placements like group homes. These placements are the least family-like environments and don’t usually allow a teen to form strong bonds with reliable adults.
Foster Care Statistics from the AFCARS Report for FY 2010:
- As of September 30, 2010, there were 33,993 youth aged seventeen years old in the foster care system and 31,667 youth aged sixteen years old in the foster care system in the United States.
- 52% of the children and youth in the foster care system are male
- 53% of the teens whose parents had their parental rights terminated were male. This number does not include those age 16 and older that have a goal of emancipation. The numbers of teens who are no longer eligible to remain a part of their state’s foster care system due to their age or who “age out” of the foster care system has increased over the years. Many of these youth lack support and resources. They do not have a solid group of family and friends to rely on and need assistance as they transition into adulthood.
The outlook may not be great for older youth overall, however, it can be even less positive for teen males in the foster care system. To commemorate National Foster Care Month this May, The Teen Toolbox is launching our first annual Pack A Backpack Drive ™ to support teen males in foster homes, group homes, and homeless shelters. Our goal is to collect and distribute 40 backpacks (duffle bags, and knapsacks) filled personal care items/toiletries including deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, lotion, powder, hand sanitizer, and shaving items by May 31, 2012.
Additionally, I would like to offer this blog as a platform to highlight the stories (successes and challenges) of teen males in our foster care system. If you would like to be interviewed for a blog that will be released during National Foster Care Awareness Month please contact me at: NickiATtheteentoolboxDOTcom for additional information.
We want to hear from:
- Teen males who are currently transitioning out of foster care
- Foster parents who are helping teen males move toward successful independence
- Male foster care alumni who were emancipated youth or who aged out of the foster care system
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.