Kevin and Terrilyn's Story
[Kevin and Terrilyn's picture] Kevin and Terrilyn have been emergency foster parents for Seneca Center for the past year. During that time, they have fostered children ranging in age from 8 – 18. Even though the placements are short-term, each child and teen is considered a family member during their stay. “We say that you’re part of the family. We don’t call you a foster kid,” says Terrilyn.
This means that the children can call Kevin and Terrilyn “Dad” and “Mom” if they choose, and they often do. It also means that they are included in all the family activities, from eating out to going to the movies, and Kevin and Terrilyn make it a point to celebrate everyone’s birthday equally with cake, balloons, presents, and a party.
Recognizing that the youth who are placed in their Pittsburg home have been hurt and traumatized, Kevin and Terrilyn work hard to build trust and provide an accepting environment by listening carefully and being observant. “A lot of the kids come in with a thick shell,” says Kevin, “but you can get through to them.”
The couple work closely with Seneca’s social workers and support counselors to help meet the needs of the children in their care, and they both agree that they can rely on staff to be responsive and helpful. “Whenever you’re in need, Seneca is there for you,” says Terrilyn.
Although the children in emergency care do not stay with Kevin and Terrilyn for more than 60 days, they both feel confident that any positive experience with a caring adult, no matter how brief, can make a profound and lasting impact in the lives of foster youth.
“These kids are very intelligent,” says Terrilyn. “If you can give them the right environment, they can grow up and be successful.”
Kevin adds, “The odds are against them, but if they can connect with the right foster parents their lives can be changed.”