Think about the love and attention we give to newborn babies. Now, imagine that love and attention being given to a young person in their teens, removed from their home because their mother or father have a substance use disorder.
Those were some of the responses during a question-and-answer session at Utah Foster Care’s (UFC) Price office that was also attended live online. Lauren Hoffman was in foster care for nine years in Oregon. She now supports foster families in the Uintah Basin as a UFC staff member.
Sometimes, she said, a regular evening meal is a routine few of these teens have ever experienced. “To be able to have that family setting, where we all sat around the table and talked about our day, helped me feel like I belonged and was being seen.”
About 30 percent of kids in foster care in the Price area are teens. UFC foster-adoptive consultant Kobi Prettyman said she struggles to find enough families in rural Utah who agree to foster teens. Many of them end up far away from their communities, in places like Utah County, because of the shortage.
“All kids in foster care, but especially teens, do better when they are placed with families in the cities and towns where they live,” said Prettyman. “Going to the same school, having the same friends and support systems, really makes a difference.”
Layne Miller is a longtime foster parent in Price. He and his wife, Karen, make up the only family in Carbon and Emery counties that accepts teenage boys as placements. They have a wall full of photos of the boys who they have fostered. And, they still keep in touch with many of them.
“Thinking about having teens in your home can be daunting,” said Miller. “But, I believe if you want to help change society and make it better, you start with the kids. When you help them, you will have an impact on a whole long line of family members. And, that will make a difference.”
To find out more about how you can make a difference for kids in your community, contact email@example.com or call (435) 650-4114.