Former foster child now recruiting foster parents for teens

Former foster child now recruiting foster parents for teens

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"People think they must be bad teenagers if they were in DCS custody and that is not true," said Stephanie Bosson, an independent living coordinator for The Tennessee Department of Children's Services. "People think they must be bad teenagers if they were in DCS custody and that is not true," said Stephanie Bosson, an independent living coordinator for The Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
Because of his experience, Dennis is on a mission to recruit adults who will support teens in the foster care system by becoming either foster parents or mentors. Because of his experience, Dennis is on a mission to recruit adults who will support teens in the foster care system by becoming either foster parents or mentors.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Imagine turning 18 without a family or a permanent home to call your own. That's what happens when foster kids age out of the system without being adopted or reunited with their birth families.

Tim Dennis is part of the local Youth 4 Youth Leadership Board. It's a support group for teens who've been in foster care.

Dennis' own childhood hasn't been easy. He went to live with his babysitter full-time at age six, entered the foster care system at 12, and has bounced around to different foster and group homes ever since.

Dennis is now a Maryville College freshman who dreams of becoming a mental health nurse. He was inspired by someone who helped him during difficult times as a foster child. 

"I was going through a lot of emotional trauma that I wasn't willing to work through," Dennis said.

He was never adopted, but found a mentor who is helping him with the transition to adulthood.

"You decide what you want to do with your life and all that, so it's important to have somebody help you go through those decisions, go through the changes you have to make in your life and just be there to support you at all times," Dennis said.

Because of his experience, Dennis is on a mission to recruit adults who will support teens in the foster care system by becoming either foster parents or mentors.

"People think they must be bad teenagers if they were in DCS custody and that is not true," said Stephanie Bosson, an independent living coordinator for The Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

The program teaches life skills to teens in foster care and even provides money for college. 

"There's definitely a need for older teens to have foster parents that can help them with finding jobs, planning for adulthood, for where they're going to school after they graduate from high school," Bosson said.

She said if you can't be a foster parent, be a mentor.

"They need supportive adults, even if it's not someone who's going to adopt them, but someone that's going to be there for them to offer emotional support," she said.

Dennis credits his mentor for helping him stay on the right path.

"People put a perspective on foster kids that oh they're a foster child, they're not going do anything with their life and I'm here to prove to them that they're wrong," he said.

There are currently more than 3,000 teenagers in DCS custody statewide. More than 1,000 age out of the system each year.

If you'd like to help, call 1-877-DCS-KIDS.

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