Parenting a teen

Parenting a teen from foster care is a rewarding experience—changing both your life and theirs forever. Teens make up nearly 80 percent of all youth on our website and 36 percent of all youth in foster care, according to the latest Kids Count Data Center report. Teens are learning, growing, developing, and working toward becoming adults themselves. The teenage years can be a time of great transition for a young person, and the stability of permanencya family who will be there for them no matter whatis extremely important.

Throughout our teen years, and long after our 18th birthday, we all rely on family for stability and guidance with important life tasks—enrolling in higher education, finding stable housing, securing employment, and establishing healthy relationships. We never outgrow the need for family.

Things you should know about parenting from foster care:

  • Teens have a say in who becomes their permanent family. Many parents say that parenting a teen from foster care has the added reward of knowing that they chose you to be their parent.
  • Teens are forming their identities and need your affirmation. The teenage years are when kids are figuring out who they are. As a parent, you have the opportunity to affirm your teen's identity, provide mentorship, and promote healthy development and self-esteem.
  • Parents should understand the emotional impacts of foster care and trauma. All youth who have experienced foster care have experienced trauma. This is especially relevant to teens who often experience longer stays and more frequent moves while in foster care. As parents, it is important to understand how that trauma may be expressed and to be prepared to provide support for your teen, such as specialized therapy.