Many teen foster children will leave foster care when they are 18. This can mean a variety of things. But often times it means they will be thrown out into the real world without any one there to fall back on in case they hit a rough patch. And simple tasks can be so hard when you've never been taught how to do them. If you have a teen in foster care, in your home, I really cannot stress enough how important it is to take the time and teach your kiddo how to do these things. They will make a world of difference later on.
How to do laundry: It's a basic thing all kids need to know, but kids in foster care often don't have the chance to learn this simple chore. Show them the basics- like how to separate whites, lights, and darks. When to use bleach. How to measure detergent. And how to clear a dryer vent. All these little things can make a huge difference later on.
How to manage a bank account: I'll admit, I am not good at keeping track of my finances. But I try. And every kid should learn how to budget and how to manage basic bank information. By opening a small bank account for your child, showing them how to manage a checkbook, and teaching them how to move money from their checking to savings is helping prepare them for the real world in a way that may just help them budget rent each month.
How to do taxes: If you don't mind sharing your annual income with your child, involve them when you do your own taxes. If not print extra tax forms, and borrow a 'practice W4' online. Show your kid the basics of doing taxes. They may not remember everything, but you'll give them the tools to know where to start and how to maneuver the often confusing chore of filing taxes.
How to apply for a job: Applying for your first job is so scary! Now imagine, if you turned 18 in the foster are system and were expected to apply for your first job without anyone there to help you out. It would be really scary, wouldn't it? So have your kid practice. Bring home a few applications for them. Walk them through how to fill them out, how to dress for an interview, do mock interviews, and even let them get a small part time job. These are such important life skills that no kid should have to learn the second they turn 18.
How to write a resume: Applications can only go so far. Resumes help people look professional in the work place. And their a necessary skill your kid will need to learn in order to begin to succeed in life. So give them the basics, and help them create a few different resumes for their 'dream job' positions. Not only will you be teaching them something important, you'll be giving them the tools to achieve their career-oriented dreams.
About safe sex: As awkward as this conversation may be- it's one that many foster kids never receive. They're tossed around from home to home. Some foster parents assume that the kids have already been talked to about it. Others just don't feel like it's their place to do so. But all teens need to be educated on safe sex- and why it's important. Find a technique for you and try to educate your teen on STDs, pregnancy prevention, and how waiting for the 'right person' is a lot better than sharing yourself with a lot of the 'wrong people'.
How to cook basic meals: Could you imagine having never cooked a meal as a child? It's not uncommon with foster kids- who's birth parents may not have had much food to cook, and foster parents may have done all the cooking for them. INVOLVE your child in meal time. Show them the basics of measuring, following recipes, cooking meats, and using an oven. It could spare their stomach later on.
How to drive: Many different states (and counties) have different regulations on foster children acquiring a drivers license or even a learner's permit. If you can, push your social worker to help your child acquire a learner's permit. And help teach them the ropes. If you can't get them a learner's permit, try teaching them other driving lessons. You can still teach them the meaning of road signs, appropriate road rules, and the basics of how to drive a car. It's a skill many kids need to learn, and unfortunately not all foster kids get to. But do your best to offer them the right education in driving.
Basic child care: Many children in foster care don't necessarily grow up with the best examples of parenting. But that doesn't mean they themselves won't make amazing parents. Make an effort to teach your foster child appropriate child-care. Things like water safety, fire safety, how to hold an infant, child-safety tips, and nurturing techniques.