SANFORD, Fla. — When it comes to foster care, finding foster parents for young children is far less challenging than finding people willing to take on teenagers. Many teens end up instead in group homes.
- Chas Holden, 19, shares her foster care story
- Her foster mom took her in when Chas was 15
- LINK: Find out what it takes to be a foster parent
Chas Holden, 19, was one of those kids. Went she went into foster care at 15, she found herself first at a group home. Fortunately for her, she was only there four weeks before getting placed with new foster mom Shyrene Hamzehloui.
“Have there been ups and downs?” asked Spectrum News 13 Reporter Erin Murray.
“Yeah, I am a teenager,” laughed Chas. “I love her a lot. She helped me with a lot of stuff, and she never gave up on me.”
“One of the things that I kind of learned from her is I call her resilient,” said Shyrene. “Every time she gets knocked down, she just sort of picks herself back up, and we move forward, and she has come a long way.”
“Obviously group homes do serve a purpose, and at the end of the day, kids need a stable and safe place to stay, but kids also belong in families,” said Danielle Abbey, Community Based Care of Central Florida.
So finding foster parents like Shyrene, who was willing to take on a teenage foster child, was rare.
“They need a lot of love, and they need a lot of understanding,” said Shyrene, as she talks about caring for foster teenagers.
But what is even more amazing is that Chas is now 19 -- an adult. But Chas still lives with Shyrene, which means Shyrene’s role as parent has not yet ended.
“To me I am not done raising her,“ said Shyrene. “ I am not done being a mom, I am not done parenting her.”
She has now helped Chas get into college at Seminole State, and plans to keep helping her with life goals, like finding an apartment.
To Chas, whose biological mother passed away when she was just four, Shyrene fills that role.
“She is my mom, she is my mom,” said Chas.
This bond shows, the transition of child into adult, doesn’t mean the parenting stops. Instead, the bond will grow forever.
“Forever,” said Shyrene. “Maybe not always under my roof, but to whatever extent, forever.”
Visit the Community Based Care of Central Florida’s website to learn more about what it takes to be a foster parent.