UK launches virtual support group for adopted Ky. teens

Published 6:30 am Friday, November 27, 2020

By Lindsey Piercy
University of Kentucky

In Kentucky, there are nearly 10,000 young people in foster care, of which nearly one-third are waiting for their “forever” adoptive home. That’s why the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky remains committed to supporting adoptive and foster families.

“Having been in out-of-home care myself, I can certainly appreciate the complexities facing foster and adoptive families,” Jay Miller, dean of the CoSW, said. “Our college is focused on actualizing a commitment to those families through cutting-edge programming, and we are able to do so in a way that is innovative, intentional and impactful.”

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November marks National Adoption Month — a time to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families. This year’s theme, “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn,” highlights the importance of having productive conversations with teenagers in adoptive/foster care.

In an effort to facilitate dialogue, the CoSW is launching Adoption Support for Kentucky-Teens — a statewide, virtual support group for adopted teens ages 14-17.

“ASK-Teens is a vital first step in engaging youth who have experienced adoption with the purpose of listening to their perspectives, learning from their experiences and offering a platform for constructive peer and professional support,” Melissa Segress, director of the CoSW’s centers and labs, explained.

According to research conducted by the CoSW Training Resource Center, there is a great need for emotional support for adoptive families. Specifically, findings from a statewide assessment underscored the need for services specific to teenagers with lived foster/adoptive experiences.

Adolescence is a vulnerable time, especially for adopted children. ASK-Teens offers real connections through Adoption Support for Kentucky (ASK). The award-winning peer support program has been serving adoptive, foster and kinship families for more than two decades. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all ASK support groups and trainings are being offered virtually.

As with all ASK services, ASK-Teens harnesses technology to organize virtual meetings through a secure online platform. Additionally, group sessions will occur twice a month and will be led by an experienced behavioral health clinician.

These discussions offer a safe space to share personal experiences without fear of judgment.

“ASK-Teens is an innovative new program aimed at meeting the unique needs of Kentucky families,” Miller said. “With a program that is rooted in a common purpose, aimed at a common good, it is sure to be impactful for the Commonwealth.”

For more information about ASK-Teens, you can watch this video, call 859-257-6650 or text ASKKY to 31996.