‘There’s a lot of misconception about teenagers’: Foster care system continues to see increase in teenagers
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - May is National Foster Care Month and brings light to finding youth in foster care permanent homes and connections. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than 407,000 children and youth are in the foster care system.
Kids crossing is a local nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that helps place foster kids with families. Officials there tell 11 News they continue to see a huge need to families willing to help teenagers.
Jamie Kopinski, is a mother of two teenagers and has been taking in foster kids for the last six years. “I have one unofficially adopted, is what I call him... he’s 18, and then we have three foster teenagers,” says Kopinski.
Kopinski tells 11 News she has taken in kids of all ages, but thinks she has found her niche with teenagers, even though she knows many people are opposed to the idea of bringing older kids into their homes. “I think placing teens is hard. Particularly teen girls I’ve heard can be very difficult to place. I think there’s a lot of misconception about teenagers that maybe they’re scary or they’re in care because they’re troublemakers,” says Kopinski. “That can’t be further from the truth. These are great, great people. They are in bad situations sometimes but they’re not in care because of something they’ve done.”
She finds joy in helping the teens go through situations they might never have been in; whether that’s learning how to drive, applying for college, or just having the support they need. And Kopniski’s biological kids have been able to make many new friends in the process.
“It’s good for them just to see a different way of life, not that our way is perfect or anything at all like that... my kids have had the whole range. We’ve had some personality conflicts but we’ve also made permanent family members,” says Kopinski. “It exposes them and opens their eyes to things maybe they wouldn’t see, I think it makes them better people and gives them more appreciation for things that they have. It gives them a lot more compassion and grace for other kids that they may encounter.”
With the growing need for foster families across the United States, Kopinski has one message for families:
“It’s not a journey that you take by yourself. Kids Crossing is fantastic. If you have room in your home, in your family, and in your heart to take a look at being a foster parent. It’s kind of an all encompassing journey. There’s really hard times but it’s also super rewarding,” says Kopinski.
If you would like to learn more information on becoming a foster parent, or Kids Crossing, click here.
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