Guest post by April Creager, Hillsborough County Licensing Specialist and
Nicole Lefever, Director of Licensing for Eckerd Community Alternatives | Hillsborough
Ah, the teen years. Perhaps you recall: these years are filled with hormones, emotions, and plenty of ups and downs. Now imagine that you had to face those times without the support of your family? What would you do? How would you handle it? Sadly, many of the teens in our community deal with this problem on a daily basis since being removed from their families. Not only does a removal mean that the teen has to face a new set of circumstances, but often times they are separated from their siblings. The sibling bond is thought to be one of the strongest and longest-lasting bonds in a person’s life, making this separation a terrifying and heart-wrenching time.
What these teens need are stable, loving homes that are willing to meet them where they are in life and help guide them down a path of resilience and recovery. Recent numbers indicate that there are nearly 300 teens in the Hillsborough County System of Care. Approximately 200 of them are in group homes while only about 80 reside in family foster homes. The need for foster parents willing to open their hearts and homes to our teens is overwhelming. Currently, Eckerd is working with BeHomebase, a new campaign created by local professionals to highlight the need for these homes. There is a Facebook page as well as a website: www.BeHomebase.org.
If you are a currently licensed foster home and think that you and your family are a good fit to assist our teen population, please reach out to your licensing agency. If you are new to the System of Care and want to foster teens, you can reach us via phone at 813-225-1105, or on our website at www.eckerd.org/foster.