More than 300 teens are looking for a connection to a family and home
Being a teen is hard enough as it is. But imagine not having a family or someone to call mom and dad. Of the 630 Westchester children in foster care, more than 300 are teens looking for permanent loving families. These youth need the support of a family and a connection that enables them to move into adulthood with the parental support most of us take for granted. Tara, a former foster child, always wondered “Why was I never good enough for someone to love me?”
This year, United Way’s 2-1-1, along with Family Ties of Westchester and Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS), are joining hands to make finding permanent homes for these teens a priority.
“People may not realize that older children in the foster care system are often afraid of their future prospects,” said Naomi Adler, CEO and President of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “Foster parents who take an older child into their home can make a dramatic difference in the life of a teen and help guide them on the path to success in adulthood.”
“Providing a safe and nurturing home is the first step towards making a lasting difference in a young person’s life,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Families in Westchester have so much to offer our youth, especially a young teen in need.”
United Way’s 2-1-1 call specialists are available to help prospective parents determine if they have the basic eligibility to become a foster parent or to adopt a foster teenager. Once initial questions are answered, callers are asked to attend an orientation program facilitated by Family Ties of Westchester, a nonprofit organization offering support services, education, and advocacy to families and children. Westchester County DSS contracts with Family Ties of Westchester to recruit, train, recommend for certification and support people interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents within Westchester County.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be a foster or adoptive parent, and foster and adoptive families come in many different sizes, configurations and personalities,” said Betty Mutschler, Associate Executive Director of Family Ties. “We give people the training, tools and support that they need to be successful parents and family members.”
“Fostering or adopting a child is a very special and gratifying way to give back,” said DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire. “For teens in particular, a family connection helps guide them into a healthy and successful adulthood.”
The support from foster and adoptive parents is invaluable. “I tell my kids to reach for the sky and if they fall I will be there to push them back up,” said Katrina Brown, Westchester County Foster/Adoptive Parent.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, adopting a foster teen, or finding out more about the process, please call United Way’s 2-1-1 by dialing 211 from a landline or cell phone. This free, confidential helpline is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, in more than 250 languages.
About United Way of Westchester and Putnam
United Way of Westchester and Putnam operates with the fundamental belief that all people deserve a quality education, enough income to support a family, and opportunities for a healthy lifestyle. The not-for-profit organization works with agency partners, government, businesses and community leaders to solve problems that are too complex for any one entity alone. All contributions go toward improving the education, income, and health of the children, youth and families throughout Putnam and Westchester. United Way’s 2-1-1, which covers Putnam as well as Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, answers hundreds of online inquiries and calls per day ranging from tax, heating, and mortgage questions to childcare, basic needs, natural disaster and crisis calls. United Way of Westchester and Putnam is located at 336 Central Park Ave., White Plains, NY 10606. They can be reached at 914-997-6700 or by visiting www.uwwp.org. Follow United Way on Facebook (www.facebook.com/UnitedWayWP) and Twitter (@UnitedWayWP) for the latest news and updates.
About Family Ties
Family Ties of Westchester is a grassroots organization that provides parent driven advocacy and support services to families of children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Westchester County has a contract with Family Ties in collaboration with United Way 2-1-1 to recruit foster/adoptive homes; Family Ties provides all the training and certification of those foster/adoptive candidates. In addition, Family Ties has sites all over the county that provide FREE parent support groups parent skills training, advocacy efforts, and respite opportunities. Family Ties recognizes parents as full partners in planning for their children’s treatment and services and helps empower them to take part in the decision-making process
About Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS)
Westchester County DSS supports the family unit and community in many ways with a comprehensive and accredited Child Welfare Division. The DSS certifies foster and adoptive parents for children in foster care who need a loving home. The casework staff, pediatric clinic and a variety of partnerships with many other community agencies are the means to obtaining the necessary services for children in foster care. The Department makes provision for financial support via room and board payments, medical services and special reimbursements.