BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– The crisis of our future continues to plague our state.

As of a February 2023 Bureau of children and families report, nearly one-third of the state’s 6,142 children in the foster care system are teenagers, desperate for placement.

According to Tina Gray-Russell with Braley and Thompson, a foster parent training and placement agency, 29 percent of those children are teenagers in need of a loving home.

“There’s a very strong need for that for teens, especially between the ages of 13 and 18. There’s a lot of myths about teens, people think they’ll be more difficult, they’ll tear the house up and all these different things. But the truth is they want the same thing that any child wants.”

Tina Gray-Russell, of Braley and Thompson

Gray-Russell said if those children do not receive placement, they are often placed in hotels or shelters which can just add to the trauma the child just went through leaving an unsafe home environment.

“Any time you take a child and do that, especially teens who are getting ready to go through puberty, in some cases starting to get close to adulthood, they can be dealing with a lot of different emotions with the situation. It can be very stressful and very emotionally hard on them.”

Tina Gray-Russell, of Braley and Thompson

Gray-Russell told 59News the agency is working to break the stigma surrounding older foster kids. She said there are some perks.

“You don’t have to change diapers for a teenager. I mean that is a difference. They can do things more independently, they won’t require as much supervision as a small child, they’re closer to adulthood.”

Tina Gray-Russell, of Braley and Thompson

According to Gray-Russell, these factors are often overlooked when families are considering fostering, which is why the number of teens needing placement is growing. It is also why the agency works to host events and seminars for interested families regarding teens in the foster system

“They want the same things young kids want. They can be more difficult to place, our goal is to change that.”

Tina Gray-Russell, of Braley and Thompson

Changing that one child at a time so whether they are 6 months, 6 years, or sixteen, every child has a safe and loving place to call home.

Click here for a list of resources, or here to learn how to become a foster parent.