Carl “Skip” and Ann Rice have been bringing foster teens into their home for 24 years.
They started their foster care journey when some of their children were still in high school. They weren’t initially with KidsPeace, but when we opened a foster care office in their hometown of Danville, Pa., they started working with our organization. They were among a group of foster parents honored Friday at the KidsPeace Foster Care and Community Programs’ 21st annual foster parent recognition banquet.
“KidsPeace is a good company,” Ann said, adding that they have received tremendous support over the years from their caseworkers. “They care about their kids.”
The Rices, who have two sons and a daughter of their own, prefer to take in teenage boys, although they admit with a laugh most people don’t understand why. But in talking with the couple, it’s evident they love the children and treat them as their own. Ann points out that she never refers to them as her foster children, but calls them “my boys.”
“Some of them come in so tough, so heartbroken,” Ann said. “They don’t even know they are.”
But with the Rices’ gentle guidance and strict rules, the teens learn to trust them, open up and find a place they can call home, if only for a short time. The two boys who now live with them came into their home about two years ago. This is fairly typical, as most of the foster teens stay with the Rices for two to three years. In that time, they are encouraged to go to church and graduate from high school. Many keep in touch after they leave.
Ann started to tear up when she recalled one foster teen who had lived with them and became very good friends with their daughter. Shortly after the girl went back to live with her biological mother, she was killed in a car crash. Still, despite that particular tragedy and the many challenges that come with helping to raise foster children, the Rices say they will continue to be foster parents as long as they can.
“Sometimes I think keeping the kids around helps you stay younger,” Skip said, although he joked that the toughest part about fostering teens is “keeping your hair.”
His wife gave a more serious take on the challenge of taking in a vulnerable population.
“To see them go, I think that’s the toughest part,” she said.