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Foster families needed for South Dakota teenagers

Published: Nov. 28, 2020 at 12:19 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - At first, Tessa Curry may seem like any other Sioux Falls Mom.

“They are typical teenagers, and they hang in their rooms, and that they have jobs,” said Curry.

But this single Mom’s family grew by becoming a foster parent. It began when Tessa found out a girl she had been mentoring was removed from the home and contacted the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

“I decided at the ripe age of 24 that I would become a foster parent,” said Curry.

And now there are three teenagers in her home.

“Blessings, there’s been so many,” said Curry.

She watched their progress, and sometimes their setbacks.

“They didn’t need a parent, but they needed a mentor they needed a coach they needed someone to teach them how to drive or to cook spaghetti or to learn how to do their own laundry,” said Curry.

Sara Sheppick with Child Protection Services and the DSS says there are 880 foster families in South Dakota, but that’s not enough.

“There’s the need for foster families statewide. Really try to keep children within their home community whenever possible, said Sheppick.”

Those about to age out of the system at 18 are difficult to find homes for.

“Very much in need of more families that would consider caring and have a heart for caring for teenagers and older children, said Sheppick.”

The Volunteers of America Axis 180 housing program is helping qualifying teenagers. Becky Deelstra is the Managing Director.

“We do get youth here from, or that are in the foster care system as young as 16 years old, perhaps they’ve been placed in another facility. Maybe they haven’t been able to find foster care with a family,” said Deelstra.

The program includes monitored single apartment living. Each young adult needs to be in school or have a job, and they are taught life skills.

“How to open a bank account, how to apply for college,” said Deelstra.

Sometimes people just need people to walk beside them and help them through those transitions and support them and just be there for them.

There will be challenges and victories becoming a foster parent.

“We’re still here, and we’re still fighting the fight with you, not for you with you. Because that’s half the battle is they feel like they’re fighting all of these things alone,” said Curry.

Curry says at this very moment there are teenagers in Sioux Falls that have one dream before they age out of the foster system: having a family.

“There are countless kids that are in residential facilities that could be productive and could be successful in a foster home if there was just one that would take them,” said Curry.

Foster parents are also needed for children with special circumstances, such as medical complications or behavioral issues. To become a foster parent, you must complete an application, have a background check, and go through training courses, which are now virtual during the pandemic. to find out if becoming a foster parent is right for you, contact the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

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