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Danville, Pa., foster parents make home for teenage boys

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Rice foster parents

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.

Pennsylvania woman shares childhood experience with KidsPeace foster parents

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It wasn’t until Mindy Honey became a mom that she realized the impact her foster families had on her.

 

Honey, 32, entered the foster care system at 18 months old in Belfast, Maine, and bounced around until she was 7. Two years later, the Pennsylvania couple who had brought her into their home adopted her.

 

“I really appreciate how much they did for me,” she said.

 

She shared her story Friday night at the KidsPeace Foster Care and Community Programs' 21st annual foster parent recognition banquet in Danville, Pa. May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.

 

Honey said after she was adopted, she had a normal childhood until her father unexpectedly died when she was 15. Still, she turned that hardship into a positive, working diligently to put herself through school so she could become an ICU nurse. She now works for Geisinger Medical Center and has two children of her own, who make her realize every day how much she has to be grateful for in her life.

 

Recently, a foster sibling from a family that had given her a temporary home when she was small reached out to her via Facebook, asking if she was the person who had lived in their house. Honey was touched to be able to say thank you to people who had helped to shape her early years, and she hopes other foster parents who guided her would be proud of where she is today and what she has accomplished.

 

She told the foster parents in attendance that even if they feel sometimes as though they’re unappreciated, they are making an enormous difference in the lives of children.

 

Ann and Carl “Skip” Rice have been fostering teenagers for more than two decades. Check back to read their story.

 
   
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