DHS raises pay rates to parents who foster older children

Philadelphia DHS older foster care
File photo. (Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro).

Tysheara Moore, now 18, has been in foster care under the Philadelphia Department of Human Services since she was 10 years old.

Though she is currently placed with her biological mother, Moore was for years shifted between group homes and institutions.

“It made me homesick,” Moore said.

“It made me feel like I didn’t have [anybody] there to help me. It just seemed like everybody left me with whatever stranger and it felt like I didn’t have anybody to turn to or talk to, there were so many new faces.”

May is National Foster Care Month, and DHS is mounting an aggressive campaign to improve experiences for Moore and the thousands of other foster children aged 14 and over, who comprise about half of the youth in the agency’s care and often go on to group homes or institutions.

“We want to change that,” DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said Thursday.

“I believe we have a moral imperative to actively look for foster homes that serve older youth. They deserve a family setting.”

Due to what Ambrose says is an “especially urgent” need for foster parents to house youth aged 14 and up, DHS is offering a rate increase of $300 per month to families who take in older children.

“Most of the money will go directly to what the youth wants to do, things like prom, sneakers, school activities, trips – those types of things that are really important to adolescent development and normalizing the experience of kids who have been abused or neglected,” Ambrose said.

She said case notes will be checked on a monthly basis to ensure the money is being spent appropriately.

In an additional effort to raise awareness about the resources available to potential foster parents, DHS will on Thursday night held a town hall meeting in Hunting Park.

“This is just one town hall meeting in one neighborhood in Philadelphia,” Ambrose said.

“If we get the response I expect to get, we’ll be having additional town hall meetings to really go to parents and recruit for foster youths, because they deserve to be raised in the same environment I was.”

She further noted the importance of catering to the specialized needs of older foster children as they reach critical transitional ages so they don’t go on to commit crimes, become victims or suffer from mental health problems or drug addictions – fates foster children who go unadopted are statistically more likely to face.

“Youth who have been abused and neglected and are part of our system usually have a significant amount of trauma and are overwhelmed by almost everything and trying to fight to just to survive, so we know educational outcomes for youth in foster care are really bad,” Ambrose said.

“Education is key to success and we need to particularly support them around education, transitional housing, jobs – all those kinds of things which are hard enough for any youth who live in a regular family setting are even more difficult for foster youth.”

Moore said she’s a big supporter of the agency’s efforts.

“I think a lot of kids are going to be successful now,” she said.

“A lot of kids are not going to be in the streets doing violent things if they have positive things to do with themselves. I think it’s very wonderful to help them know there’s not just violence outside – there’s also success out there.”

Additional outreach

Recruiting more foster homes for older children is simply one component of a strategic plan DHS is undertaking to reduce the number of youth in congregate care and better serve the older population.

“Improving goals of children is a huge priority for this agency and something we’re putting a lot of effort into,” Ambrose said.

“One of the strategies is recruitment for foster homes for older youth, but there are many others.”

Some additional initiatives now underway include:

>> Hiring an Older Youth Coordinator, herself a former foster child, to oversee outreach and activities and provide input on best policies and practices to improve the treatment of youth in foster care.

>> Taking advantage of new federal legislation adopted by Pennsylvania that allows DHS to pay subsidies to foster children who opt to remain in DHS care after the age of 18.

>> Hiring a new coordinator to conduct expedited permanency meetings with all older youth to try to identify family members who can house them.

>> Offering older foster children job training, housing assistance, education services and life skills development through the DHS Achieving Independence Center.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."