We are so excited to announce the birth of Fostering Footprints Inc. We are looking forward to bridging the gap between teen mothers who age out of foster care, and the lack of a consistent support system. Many young people become parents not long after aging out of foster care. Within four years, 42 percent have given birth to or fathered a child, according to a study by the Western Inc., research organization.
For many young women who become mothers while they are still teenagers, having a child marks the end of their hopes and dreams. They are often less likely to attend college, and about one-fourth give birth to a second child within 2 years. In addition, about 28 percent remain poor through their early thirties.
It is our vision to help teen mothers who age out of foster care beat the odds. There are several programs available to help prevent teen pregnancy, but we all know that pregnancy does happen. For those instances where teens face giving birth, there is a great need for continuing support in future life decisions. Teen mothers would benefit from parenting skills that include child development, different parenting styles and child’s temperament as well as the importance of a secure attachment. Other life skills that would prove to be beneficial in aiding towards self-sufficiency are employability skills, promotion of educational goals which include completing high school and moving on to postsecondary education, health and wellness, and finance and budgeting.
Fostering Footprints Inc. name derives from the need to foster teen mothers in developing and maintaining an attachment and bond to their child. Most adolescents at the age of 21 are not ready to enter the world of adulthood all alone and can call on adults in their lives to help them through and offer advice. For adolescents who age out of foster care, this is far from their reality and they lack that necessary support system to fall back on . They very seldom have a consistent adult in their life that would be able to support and offer guidance in life’s toughest decisions.
Footprints symbolizes a mother giving birth, and watching her baby’s footprints being captured in order for the mother to cherish forever. As the mother and child begin their journey together, the child looks to it’s mother for nurturing and protection. A favorite poem that puts this all in perspective is Footprints in the Sand:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him,he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."The LORD replied:"My son, my precious child,I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering,when you see only one set of footprints,it was then that I carried you."
We all look for signs that we are not alone. Signs that we may find in other adults or peers, music, paintings, even in another person’s eyes; signs that demonstrate that someone else may begoing through the same obstacles or has felt the same feelings whether good or bad. It means so much to know that there may be someone out there that can relate. Fostering Footprints is making that sign a reality for teen moms.Please continue to follow our journey as there are so many things to come in order to assist this vulnerable population. Stay tuned and welcome again!