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 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 Jewel, some of the young mothers staying in her home have learned to drive, gotten their first jobs and graduated high school.
Fathers also are strongly encouraged to participate in parenting lessons, which are implemented in the foster home, and integrate as part of the family.
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. She 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.
“Our primary purpose is to reunify the families and make it a smooth transition for everyone. We need more people to teach these girls not just how to be mommies but how to actually raise their babies.”
Currently, Jewel is fostering a teen mother who is on track to graduate from high school this year and is working to complete a course to become a certified State-Tested Nursing Assistant. Jewel has provided her with the love and guidance she needed to learn how to be a good mother to her infant son. She has learned how to dress and bathe him, how to prepare healthy food and how to interact and play with him to strengthen their bond. Click for more information about the Parent Child Foster Care Program or becoming a foster parent with Pressley Ridge or call the local office near you.