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If you know a teenager who is in the foster care system or who is living with someone other than their parents, you need to listen to this episode! We were thrilled to sit down and listen to the advice and insight Shiloh Jones brings! How do you interact with a teenager who lives in foster care? How can you be helpful and encouraging in the midst of a difficult situation? Don’t panic about foster care – you can be a supportive, encouraging force in a teenager’s life!
In this episode, you’ll find out…
- The issues that children and teens in the foster care system have to deal with.
- Why a child might enter foster care in the first place.
- How foster children relate to the 5 Stages of Grief.
- The unique restrictions and regulations put on teenagers in foster care.
- What “aging out” of foster care looks like.
- How you can support and encourage a teenager who is living apart from their parents.
- Am I willing to be a stable, consistent relationship in this student’s life?
- Have I noticed a change in attitude or behavior?
- Am I being sensitive and aware of holidays and anniversary dates?
- What’s going on? How have things been?
- What do you need?
- Do you feel safe? Do you feel like you are in a safe place where you can be yourself and start to heal?
In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:
Shiloh Jones is a social worker in Denver and has worked in foster care for 7 years. She has spent a lot of time around kids and teens who have experienced unspeakable things and can struggle with mental illness or behavioral challenges. One of Shiloh’s ministries is to not just get these kids and teenagers to reach a goal but to really love on them and show them they are worth something and that they can do great things.
Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter
Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
We are less than 9 weeks away from our 7th annual #TL5K! In order to celebrate our biggest fundraiser of the year and bring awareness to what actually happens through Teen Lifeline Support Groups, we are going to release a bonus blog once a week until our 5K on April 2nd! These blogs will be a small glimpse into the stories of teenagers we work with and some of the facilitators who make these groups possible.
We are passionate about these groups because we get to see the faces, hear the stories and speak truth every single week. If you are just now getting introduced to Teen Lifeline or are wanting to know more about how we are helping teenagers live life better, these stories over the next 9 weeks are going to be a great way to take a behind-the-scenes peek at our non-profit.
I often get asked about our support groups and what a successful group looks like. You have no idea how tricky that question is…what does the perfect family look like? What are the characteristics of a perfect classroom? These questions are impossible to answer because…it depends.
It depends on the situation, the group of students, the needs of the group and the end-goal. Every single one of my groups is different, but one is not necessarily more successful than the others; however, there is one group in particular that comes to mind when I think of facilitating these support groups.
Last year, I was able to lead a middle school support group at an alternative campus (these are students who have been moved from there campus for one disciplinary reason or another). This being the first group I had ever led, I was nervous and a little (or a lot) anxious. I wondered how I would relate to these young trouble makers, if they would actually talk to me and how I would get them to connect with each other when they were more worried about video games and which boy liked them that week. Through the course of a school year, I saw over 36 middle schoolers in group, some that stayed with me for several months and some who were only there a couple of weeks.
In one particular group, we were talking about stress (by playing with play-doh, of course!), and one of the girls brought up her situation living in foster care. She talked about the stress of moving through different foster homes and new “siblings” that she was trying to get along with.
In this same group, I had a boy who sweet, brilliant, and very shy. He rarely spoke up in group, but as his peer talked about her fears and anxiety about home life, he stopped her and asked, “Are you okay? Do they ever hurt you?” He cut right to he chase (which made me a little nervous), but showed empathy in a way that was surprising for a middle schooler. Without me saying a word, these two started a conversation about getting help if she didn’t feel safe and how to deal with difficult family members. Even though I was the group facilitator, these two guided our group through discussion around dealing with stress and how to positively react when you are put in negative situations.
If I had to pick one thing, that would be my favorite characteristic of a successful group – when they reach out and encourage one another. Finding a connecting point with peers is huge, especially if you feel like you are on an island all by yourself. Our groups empower teenagers to seek out these relationships and let them know that they are not the only ones dealing with junk.
I am so thankful that I work for a ministry that allows these types of conversations to happen. A ministry that equips students to deal with stressful situations, encourages teens to open up and seek relationships, and empowers them to live their best life possible.