A plea from teens for a foster home

PHILADELPHIA - October 22, 2013

Hundreds of teens are currently in group home settings where a number of them live together in a dorm-like environment. But DHS would like to see these kids in a residential setting that will allow them to grow and mature more naturally.

19-year-old Matthew Thornton and 17-year-old Steven Yates are living in the Department of Human Services system.

For various reasons both teens needed placement at young ages and eventually, due to the lack of foster families, both ended up in group homes.

A common complaint of group homes is that teenagers are treated like younger children with very little freedom.

Yates explains one of the things that's tough to deal with: "A specific bed time. If we didn't, we'd get penalties and we'd have to go to bed early, we'd have to get up at a certain time. We have to eat when they tell us to, bathe when they tell us to."

Thornton and Yates are now in single family foster homes and thriving.

"I think it has actually helped a lot as me becoming an older young adult," said Yates.

But both admit the transition hasn't been easy.

Thornton tells us, "It was a little rough start. My anger issues. But my foster mother, she really treated me like I was her own son."

Thornton's foster mother, Joyce Sneed, has been taking in children for DHS for years. She says there are definite advantages to helping teenagers.

"I found that they are easier to work with because you can reason with them better than you can a younger child," said Sneed.

Sneed also says teenagers simply want someone to take a chance on them.

"With the older children, a lot of times they are tired, you know. They're ready for someone to help them to take that next step."

Thornton's advice for any new foster parent is to just listen.

He says, "You got to get to know the person first - you can't just judge them."

For more information on how you can become a foster parent, visit www.phila.gov/dhs//index.html.

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