Other Ways to Help Children in Foster Care
As an alternative to providing foster care for minor children, there are other ways to help, including fostering young adults age 18-21, mentoring older youth, representing children in court or in the school system, and volunteering for local organizations that support foster children and foster parents.
Become a licensed foster parent in the HOPE program for an older youth 18-21 years.
Fostering an older youth and supporting their preparation for adult life can be an especially rewarding experience. By helping them to learn key life skills and supporting their pursuit of employment, career planning and post-secondary education and training, you can set them on a path for future success.
The Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) Adolescent Program will be there to assist you and the youth by providing key resources and helpful tools. With the HOPE extended foster care program there are more opportunities to foster the older youth population than ever before. Through HOPE, DCYF youth can now decide to remain voluntarily in OR return to foster care up until turning 21 years of age. To qualify, youth need to have been in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services upon attaining the age of 18. They also need to be employed, participating in a work or educational program or unable to meet those requirements due to a disability, medical condition, or mental health diagnosis.
Become a Primary Caring Adult (PCA)
The Community Connects program pairs older youth in DCYF placement (14 and older) with a primary caring adult who will spend time with them, celebrate their successes, support them through challenges and help them to create the future they want.
Primary Caring Adult
Learn about having (or becoming) a Primary Caring Adult for a youth in foster care.
Primary Caring Adult
Primary Caring Adult
Transcript of video:
Robert Rodler (00:05)
A PCA, or primary caring adult, as it's known, is an individual that's committed to having a supportive relationship with the youth in foster care age 16 or older. That's going to continue beyond case closure. In fact, the PCA is committing to a lifelong relationship with that youth.
Amanda Fetko (00:24)
When they age out of 18 or even 21, it's very scary for them.
It was important for me to have a PCA because most kids don't leave their home at 18 years old, and here I am about to be on my own, and I know that I'm going to need advice because I'm doing it for the first time.
Robert Rodler (00:38)
So having that PCA as their go to person, someone that they can call when there's challenges, when they're dealing with trials and tribulations, to get that support, to get that encouragement is really important.
Gibson Agonis (01:00)
I feel like a PCA would be really helpful to me now. Even though I'm 22, I have a full time job, I own my own home. So you'd think at this point, right? I'm all set. I don't need anything else, but it would still be really nice to just have somebody to talk to, have that mentor person where when I'm having a bad day or when I need help making a decision, just having somebody to call and give me that advice, share those really happy moments that happen in life. I think that's the role that a PCA would take in my life now.
Robert Rodler (01:33)
The PCA youth relationship is different. The youth may or may not live with the PCA, and in situations that I'm aware of sometimes if the youth does live with the PCA, it's often temporary until they can get back on their feet.
Amanda Fetko (01:47)
You don't have to financially support them. There's not a specific amount of time or energy that you have to give to that relationship, and you really have nothing to lose by doing it. And honestly, you're going to find that you gain so much more than you give out of any relationship.
Robert Rodler (02:02)
The PCA youth role can take many forms. I'm aware of PCAs who've taught youth how to drive, who've supported them when they went for their driver's test, helped them to get a job, provided a reference, advised youth on going to college, help them with a FASFA, been an emergency contact.
Amanda Fetko (02:20)
It could look like you picking that kiddo once a month and going out to lunch or just inviting them over to your house for holidays. Even that is huge.
Robert Rodler (02:28)
There's really a lot of different things. It all depends on what that youth’s interests are and what they're seeking help for.
When we went to go buy my first car and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. She's bought multiple cars in the past, so she had some knowledge and she was able to support me through that experience and get me a car. And I couldn’t have been more excited and just be able to celebrate that moment with her. It was special to me.
Robert Rodler (02:55)
The PCA is approved by the court, and they are invited to attend hearings with the youth as a way of supporting them in that process.
Amanda Fetko (03:02)
I know that some people probably think, of course, as this big scary place where you go and you have to follow procedure, exactly how it's set forth. But these hearings, they actually look a lot differently. You sit at a table, and a lot of the time the judge comes down and sits with you and they have a conversation with the youth and with yourself about what you being the child's PCA is about and what that might look like for you. And it's more of a conversation. It's very comfortable. Nothing to really be afraid of.
It was helpful to have Amanda at the court hearings Just because she's emotional support for me. And I know that if I hear something that I'm not going to like that I'll be able to just express myself after freely with her and not be judged.
Robert Rodler (03:45)
Sometimes it's somebody that was a former neighbor of that youth that sees that there's a role to play in the youth development. Sometimes it's a former boss that might come forward or a current boss, a teacher, someone that coached the youth. It's oftentimes somebody that knew the youth at some point in their lives. The youth is comfortable with that person, and that person understands the needs of the youth, both current needs and future needs. If you feel like you want to have this youth in your life and you see yourself as being a part of their life for the duration and you feel that you can be helpful and that's why you would become a PCA. If you're not sure if you feel like it's maybe a temporary thing until they get out of foster care, that's great. We certainly want caring adults to help our youth, but we want this primary caring adult to be committed for a lifetime, because that's what these youth need. They need a lifetime commitment, and it may not always be intense. Sometimes the youth might be in crisis and the PCA might be in contact with them a lot.
Other times, though, that youth may be doing their own thing and not have a lot of contact. The key is that the PCA is always there on the other end of the phone through thick or thin to be that go-to person for the use. Because when it comes down to it, hopefully everyone has at least that one person in their lives that they can turn to in good times, better than bad.
If you're interested in being a PCA or you just want to hear more about it, Please contact the DCYF adolescent worker nearest to where you're living. The contact information will be on the link that you'll see here.
Become a CASA Volunteer
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Hampshire recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in the New Hampshire court system.
Become an Educational Surrogate volunteer
The Educational Surrogate Parent program provides a surrogate to educationally handicapped children whose parents cannot participate in their educational plan. Advocate for a child to ensure their educational needs are met. See Surrogate Program at NH Dept. of Education.
Donate your time and talents
to a local organization that supports foster parents, children and their families: