Deana Fosters Teen Moms and Babies

Featured image of Mentor foster mother Deana Bryant in recognition of the her Ripple of Hope award nomination.

Mentor foster mother Deana Bryant smiling in her car.

Deana Bryant is a steadfast and active Mentor foster parent welcoming teenage girls and teenager mothers into her home. For her tremendous dedication, she was honored with a Ripple of Hope nomination this year—an award given to recognize those who create a ripple of change.

“Deana mentors these girls and provides opportunities for them to thrive, giving them the self-confidence to be a part of the greater community and to not let their trauma history define their future,” explained Dorothea Stanley, Area Director for Ohio MENTOR and Deana’s nominator. “She identifies the needs of the youth placed with her and then extends herself to meet these needs.”

Many foster parents are wary of working with older youth, particularly those who have become parents themselves. Not Deana.

The Safety of Home

“I don’t feel intimidated and I tell people all the time I don’t feel like I’m doing anything extra or special,” Deana said. “I’m just doing what I know how to do.” She explained that working with young adults who have some self-sufficiency is more manageable as a single parent and that she is able to connect more with teenagers.

Deana recalled the mother of one teenager in her home who sent her a long message thanking her for taking care of her daughter. Like many grandparents, Deana celebrates the joys of being around babies with a parent who is the primary caregiver. Currently three young women, two of whom have babies, live with Deana. They have expressed relief, comfort, and assurance with Deana—once afraid no one would open their home they now know that they (and their children) will always be cared for. “You got a home with me,” Deana says. “Don’t even worry about that right now.”

An advocate for the youth in her care, Deana often works with the school system to ensure they provide mental health supports and works with Ohio MENTOR regularly to continue learning and developing skills.

“My case manager, I can’t speak highly enough about her!” Deanna exclaimed. “Tiana Craig. She has been a tremendous help. I can’t be everywhere all the time and Ohio MENTOR will step up.”

Breaking The Cycle

The impact Deana has had in her two years as a Mentor foster parent is already exponential. Deana previously worked with a young mother who has since moved into her own place, started working, and enrolled in college. “I was fortunate enough to be able to buy her a vehicle,” Deanna said. She still calls Deana for support, but she is also a support to Deana, assisting with errands and childcare. Already an example to the other young woman in Deana’s home, she also wants to be a foster parent one day.

“My favorite part of being a Mentor foster parent,” Deanna mused, “is being able to mentor young lives, seeing people move on and leave their past in the past and do what they need to do for them, and sometimes their kids, to succeed in life.”