Why My Teen Foster Children Have Cellphones

One of the first things I'll give a foster child over the age of 13, when they come into my home, is a cellphone. A prepaid one, with at least $10 in minutes included. And a lot of people ask why I feel it's so important that each of my teenage foster children have a cellphone- and why I make a point to buy each of them one.

First and foremost, it's the social norm. Foster kids shouldn't stand out of the crowd simply because they're in foster care. That isn't fair. Having a cellphone connects them to their friends and social life. They can text and call people. They can stay connected with friends from other schools they've attended. They can be a part of the 21st century teen life. A cellphone seems to be a staple of that, and I don't want any of my kids being left out.

My hidden agenda amongst it all is the fact that cellphones also allow them to stay safe. If they ever find themselves in trouble, they have a tool they can use to call 911. That is extremely important. I want my kids to be independent and to experience things- but I also want them to be safe.

Cellphones also allow them to stay in contact with me. In case they ever need me- whether they're at a school event, a friend's house, or even a birth family private visitation, I want them to be able to call me at any point when they may need my help or even a ride home.

Speaking of birth family- I want my foster kids to be able to continue to have good relationships with their siblings. A few phone calls or text messages can help keep kids in contact, and that is so so important in terms of keeping the family connected and together.

Amidst all of these things, a cellphone also promotes responsibility. They're made aware of the fact if it's broken- they need to earn another one. And if it's lost, the same rule applies. They need to be careful and responsible with it, or else they'll be busting their butt for another one.

And last, but not least, my kids have to work towards gaining more minutes. They can earn minutes by doing chores, getting good grades in school, doing positive actions, being involved in community and non-profit activities, and just generally showing poise. Cellphone minutes are a great way for me to encourage my kids to set goals and work towards rewards in life.

Bottomline: I basically give my kids cellphones for the same reason many birth parents do. They offer up a sense of security and motivation to work towards minutes. And they're just generally a good gift that my kids can appreciate.

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