It doesn’t matter how old we are––we all need love and support. Yet teens in foster care have a much harder time finding it. It’s a misconception that teens in foster care are difficult. The reality is most suffer traumatic circumstances beyond their control.

REACHing Teens (Reaching, Empowering, Advocating, Connecting and Healing) is a behavioral and training framework implemented in early 2020, after two years of in-depth research and study under the direction of Family Support Services.

This trauma-sensitive approach to supporting teens impacts many: case management organizations, caseworkers, child advocates, foster parents, the judicial system, our community, and others in the child welfare system who interact with teens, in addition to the teens themselves.

Positively changing the future success of teens in care

Our vision is to create a community where all youth are loved unconditionally, valued, and connected to a network of supports that empower them to create and achieve their future aspirations.

By changing how we deal with the effects of trauma on adolescent development, it changes the way we work with teens in foster care. That is, a shift from being a reactive trauma-inducing system to a proactive trauma-responsive system, focused on relationships, connection, and healing.

Research results indicate:

  • People heal children, not programs and services
  • Everyone can help in the healing process
  • You do not have to be a therapist to be therapeutic
  • Healing is a process that may take a lifetime
  • It is an act of love and respect to listen to children and spend time with them
  • Regardless of how a child acts, he or she should be treated with dignity and respect
  • Emotions are contagious—we can better serve our children when we are emotionally grounded and self-regulated

Change is imminent once people are educated and begin to understand the trauma experienced by teens. People begin to show compassion and patience which helps to support and nurture these teens.

Start your journey to REACHing teens

Interested in becoming a foster parent to a teen? Learn more here.  Once you complete the required PRIDE training and become a licensed foster parent, we offer CORE (Critical Ongoing Resource family Education) training, which equips foster, kinship, and adoptive parents with skills to meet the needs of teens who have moderate to serious emotional and behavioral challenges. This curriculum includes a guided self-assessment, classroom instruction, and real-time training tools that help caregivers understand trauma.

“This training was so helpful! On two different occasions, I found myself in situations with my teens that we had just covered in class, and I’m not sure I would’ve been prepared to deal with the matter had I not had CORE Teen Training.” – Janet Beal, foster parent

Teen programs promoting independence, life skills and advocacy

Family Support Services offers teens in foster care opportunities to develop life skills through several interactive programs. Each activity has eligibility criteria, which are outlined in the application forms.

The Challenge is a program designed to place teens in controlled risk-taking experiences to help them develop necessary skills they will need as an adult, such as team building, communication, transportation, critical thinking, and trust. Events include a high ropes course, a scavenger hunt, rock wall climbing, and camping. Apply here
This youth-run program provides the opportunity for participants to learn leadership skills and advocate for changes relating to their experience in the child welfare system. The program evolves based on the direction the group decides. To nominate a young adult or to request more information on future meetings, contact us
Scuba Promotes Life goals And Supports Healthy living (SPLASH) teaches teens how to prepare for life as an adult while becoming certified SCUBA divers. Classroom sessions focus on personal health, biology, chemistry, and physics, combined with water dives to prepare teens for a trip to Key Largo, FL. Teens participate in open water dives and learn about budgeting, food preparation, and various employment opportunities. Apply here
A cultural arts and educational summer camp for youth, Just Like Me allows the creative license to teens to follow their interests and write, sing, dance, paint, or create videos that tell their own stories. The program is designed to help develop and support artistic talents and gain skills such as trust, teamwork, problem-solving and decision making. Apply here
This health and wellness program is designed so that teens can experience a variety of physical well-being activities and focus on their mental and physical health. Teens will participate in a community 5k run, a healthy relationships class, and a spin class. Apply here

For more information on these programs contact us

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a fee to take CORE training?

    No, the courses are free of charge.

  • Are there camps that my teen can attend?

    Yes, please visit our camps page, here.

  • Are there opportunities for teens to get involved in the community through Family Support Services?

    Yes! We welcome teens to join our youth advisory board. This is an interactive way to gain leadership skills, engage in the community, and put their experiences to use in a positive way. Contact us to learn more.

  • Can my teen get help getting a driver’s license?

    Yes! The Keys to Independence program, helps with details and coursework. Contact us for more information.