A few hours after welcoming a new teen from the foster care system into her home, Nicole Singleton was hosting dinner with her boyfriend. It wasn’t until weeks later that he realized the two women had just met that day.

“We just hung out in the kitchen and there was an instant connection,” Nicole said. “We laugh about it all the time.”

That connection was something special. Nicole had had teens come into her home before but they had only stayed a week or two before being moved closer to friends or the school they were used to. This girl had already been living close by and so her transition into Nicole’s home was seamless—or as seamless as could be for a teenager living with a stranger.

There were expectations and manners that had to be taught and boundaries that needed addressing. While they may not always be on the same page, it’s been a positive experience overall. The best part has been celebrating milestones: A sweet 16 birthday, playing high school sports, cooking a meal, driving. Nicole is now looking forward to adopting this summer.

“I think teens are probably easier than a younger kid because a teen can understand goals a little better,” she said. “You’re helping them build on what they have. It’s like being a professional coach. You can figure out what’s going on now and the direct link to where they need to be… I’m even more excited to see what our relationship will be like once she’s an adult.”

There is a great need for more families willing to take in teens. As children age they become more and more difficult to find homes for in the child welfare system. Many end up being placed in a group home where they miss out on the experience living with a family brings.

Without the support of a family, youth who age out of the foster care system may struggle to finish school, hold down a job or find stable housing. When you foster a teen you have the opportunity to change that. Your relationship will be the greatest source of comfort as they head out into the world on their own.

Child Crisis Arizona’s licensing specialists are prepared to assist families who are interested in welcoming older youth into their homes. You can find out more about the process to become licensed at the next orientation, Tuesday, June 4 at 6 p.m. For more information visit our Foster Care and Adoption page.