Jewel Clark has always had a passion for working with at-risk youth, and for the past six years she has been a foster parent with Pressley Ridge. Recently, she began fostering teen moms and their children through Parent Child Foster Care. This unique program provides a supportive home for young parents along with their child. The foster parents are specially trained to help the teen parents develop personal resources and social supports to make life-long connections and a sound transition to adulthood.
As a parent child foster parent, her main task is teaching young moms how to be successful as an individual and as a mother. She also offers assistance with the child, providing care or taking the child to a sitter so the mother can stay in school and maintain a job. Thanks to Ms. Clark, some of the young mothers staying in her home have learned to drive, gotten their first jobs and graduated high school.
For Jewel, being in this role can be challenging at times but is very rewarding. “It takes a lot of patience and not everyone has that gift, but I want these girls to know that they can provide for their babies while also being successful.”
The teens and their babies become part of her family – they are always treated like her children even after they leave. “They can always come back to me once they transition out. If they’re having family problems, they call me and say ‘hey mama, can we come visit you and stay for a few days?’ I will always be their mama.”
Jewel says that the reference “it takes a village” is particularly true with Pressley Ridge. She has received amazing support and training from the staff, and they are always there to help her with any issues.
Ms. Clark believes wholeheartedly in the parent child foster care program and that, without it, some of the youth would have nowhere else to go. She hopes that more people will consider becoming supports for these youth.