Foster homes needed for teens in Penn Hills
Wanted: Parents to foster teens in the Penn Hills School District.
Auberle Foster Care recruiter Jeanne Burger said there are plenty of teens looking for homes, but no parents taking in foster teens in Penn Hills.
That means those who are registered as foster children could be placed wherever there is a home or residential unit outside of the school district — which isn't ideal, Burger said.
The Pittsburgh-based foster care organization has 23 foster homes for teens and four respite homes in Allegheny County, but none are in Penn Hills.
“If there is no home in Penn Hills, that child goes wherever there is a home. Our desire is to keep them in the school district they've been going to,” Burger said. “They should not be removed from their school district. If they go to school in Penn Hills and move to Duquesne because there's an available house there, the school buses them in.”
Students can lose three to five months of education with every move they make, she added.
Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families lists 37 children who need homes in Penn Hills and about half of those are teens. School district records show that 86 students from fifth to 12th grade are registered as foster children.
Susan Rosati, director of Auberle Foster Care, said her agency has focused on getting foster teens in homes for over a year now through a county initiative dubbed Foster Goodness. She said they are making progress, but there is still work to be done, especially in Penn Hills.
“I think every child needs a home to grow up in. They need that one-on-one attention,” she said.
Burger, who has provided a foster home for several children, agrees.
“I think there's a fear of teens because they have more baggage,” Burger said. “But they're just big kids who need a home. They need homes just as much as toddlers and young kids.
“Many of them have been through trauma, so they're going to have that behavior or be a little more to handle. But I don't think it takes a lot of effort or skill to do. You have to be willing to stick it through. You have to be willing to give a lot of your time, but it doesn't take a super hero to be a foster care parent.”