LUBBOCK, Texas — Some experts said Lubbock is known to not have enough available foster homes for the number of kids in foster care. As those kids become teenagers, the experts said, it becomes even more difficult for them to find foster homes.
On Tuesday, Texas Family Initiative said there are 54 teenagers in foster care in Lubbock – and only 3 are placed inside the county. That means all others – nearly 95 percent – have to make a long drive or even take a flight in order to visit their biological families.
“Most of them will tell you, ‘I used to take care of my siblings, and now you are taking care of me,'” said foster parent Corinna Bryant.
Mrs. Bryant and her husband David are in their tenth year of being a foster parents. They live in Denver City — a small town over an hour away from Lubbock.
She said of the 20 kids her family has fostered, they’ve all been from Lubbock and Amarillo. Many of them were teenagers.
“It’s hard, they have to adjust, you know, to living under new rules, a new house, new school, new friends, they’re starting basically over,” said Bryant.
Texas Family Initiative explained why it is so difficult for teens to find foster homes.
“When they’re older and they have you know more, more concerning behaviors and harder behaviors it becomes more and more difficult to find families willing to do that,” said Angela Nowell, Senior Administrator for TFI.
Nowell explained that all foster teens received help from the state in order to prepare them for adulthood. However, even with that preparation, things don’t always go well. Some teenagers that don’t have a home at all can end up sleeping in Child Protective Service offices or emergency shelters.
“I mean, it can be very frightening for these children to suddenly graduate turn 18 and go, ‘Oh, look, you’re an adult!'” said Nowell. “So we try to make them as prepared as possible.”
Without a foster family’s support, Nowell explained that it is more likely for teens to end up homeless, addicted to drugs or in jail.
“A lot of people think that big kids in foster care are like juvenile delinquents or something,” said Nowell. “They’re the same hurt, abused, neglected, traumatized, injured kids as that baby we may hand you.”
Nowell said the state has been working to improve the foster care system by adding more regulations and placing an emphasis on safety in homes. There is also a program in place by the state of Texas that can help teens pay for college and other expenses once they age out of foster care.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent or volunteering, you can get connected through St. Francis Foster Care. You can find more information on their Facebook page. You can also find information on fostering on Texas Family Initiative’s website.