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A Focus on Older Kids in Foster Care In Tennessee

PHOTO: With negative life events more common for those teens who age out of the foster care system, Tennessee is making strides in giving them support as they move on in life. CREDIT: Justine Reyes
PHOTO: With negative life events more common for those teens who age out of the foster care system, Tennessee is making strides in giving them support as they move on in life. CREDIT: Justine Reyes
December 24, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's a Christmas wish that hundreds of children get every year, but for thousands more in the foster care system, especially those who are older, the wait for a forever family continues. Linda O'Neal, executive director, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said many families who want to adopt or be foster parents are focused on babies and toddlers, so those in their teen years are hardest to place.

"Adolescents really have a need for a connection with caring adults who can help them deal with the many experiences they may have had that have had an adverse impact on their growth and development and really speak to their need for someone to be really nurturing and supportive of them," O'Neal said.

Since those older foster kids who age out of the system are more apt to struggle with negative life events, like unplanned pregnancy or unemployment, O'Neal said there are efforts to give them support.

"We have a major contract with Youth Villages that ensures every child who ages out of foster care in Tennessee has the opportunity to receive services to help them with skills for a job, or to help them negotiate financial aid in college applications; and to really do the kinds of things for them that we do for our own children to help them make that transition."

In Tennessee, there are about 8,000 children in the foster care system.

More information about foster care is available at http://1.usa.gov.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN