Older youth have the option to re-enter foster care after leaving during the pandemic

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Here in Pennsylvania, there are about 14,000 children in foster care. They can leave the system once they turn 18-year-old, but that’s harder than ever, thanks to the pandemic.

Rebekah Suk is very familiar with the foster care process because her parents did it.

“I grew up with foster brother and sisters and my husband and I were really open to that,” said Rebekah Suk, a foster care parent.

Rebekah now has two kids of her own and is a foster parent herself. She’s also pursuing adoption.

“I feel like our family has grown closer because we have a mission as opposed to going our separate ways,” said Suk. “I think it’s been very bonding for us.”

For some older teenagers in foster care, the pandemic has made the process much harder.

“I think once you age out, the statistics are horrible for success rates and they’re on their own and they don’t have a place of belonging, they just feel lost,” said Suk.

Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act allows youth who’ve aged out during the pandemic to come back, regardless of their age, through September.

“I think it’s important to have supports for the older youth because it’s hard out there,” said Ashley Sturgeon, Foster care Supervisor at Families United Network.

Norma Cutting once considered leaving the foster care system when she turned 18-year-old but changed her mind.

“On October 15, 2020, at the age of 19, I was officially adopted along with my youngest siblings,” said Cutting.

She has a message for others waiting their turn, no matter their age.

“Try not to rush the adoption process because one day it will literally just come to you,” said Cutting.

Families interested in learning more about becoming a foster or adoptive family should contact the SWAN Helpline toll-free at 1-800-585-7926. More information is available online at www.adoptpakids.org

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