Will you Foster a Teenager?

Foster Parents Are Needed for Teenage Boys and Girls
Multiethnic Group of Teenagers Outdoor

Teenagers who come into foster care, or who have been in and out of the system, need unconditional acceptance, firm boundaries and a safe place to land so they can thrive.

Could you be a foster parent to a teenager? Could you step up to one of the most rewarding, and possibly challenging, tasks you ever could be asked to do?

“You can give them stability, life skills, a safe place to be,’’ said Tennessee foster parent J.P. Peach.

Many inquiries to the Department of Children’s Services are from citizens who would like to become foster or adoptive parents to babies or young children. But, teenagers, ages 13 to 19, make up 43% of the caseload and child welfare agencies – public and private – are in need to families willing to work specifically with teenagers.

Being a foster parent to a teenager means understanding what you may be signing up for:  Young people in foster care may be scared, angry, depressed. They may sometimes be dishonest, or may be struggling in school.  They may need you to offer constant supervision and regular trips to doctors and therapists.

But, foster parents who have cared for teens say they enjoy the conversations; that it is good to just be able to listen; and they enjoy the opportunity to launch a young person into his or her life.

“We need foster parents to commit to teenagers because they are not adults. They are not grown. They are children who need guidance, love, re-direction,’’ said Tiwana Woods, Regional Administrator for Davidson County DCS. “They need adult living skills, to learn how to budget, plan for a future, fill out a job application. We need people who are willing to do that – and more -- for youth.”

Added Peach: “Investing time in teenagers gives them a chance.’’

Learn More

To learn more about making a loving and lasting impact on the life of a young person by becoming a foster parent, contact the Department of Children’s Services at 877-DCS-Kids or fill out the online inquiry form.

First, consider the initial criteria.

You must be able to:

  • give without the expectation of immediate returns
  • have room in your home and in your daily life
  • learn and use proven behavioral management skills
  • love and care for children with problems

Foster Parents can be:

  • single or married
  • with, or without, children of their own

Minimal Requirements:

  • at least 21 years of age
  • must be fingerprinted and pass a background check
  • participate in an Informational Meeting
  • must complete a training program called PATH -- Parents As Tender Healers
  • participate in a Home Study
  • provide documentation of a sufficient income
  • complete a health exam

DCS will carefully assess your application and work with you to help you sign up for the required trainings. 

And, remember, if you have any questions, call 877-DCS-KIDS.