There is an urgent need for more foster carers across the UK, particularly for teenage placements.
A survey carried out by The Fostering Network has shown that 3 out of 5 fostering services are desperately seeking foster carers for teenagers. And sadly this situation is not improving; 98% of fostering services in the survey were looking for more foster families for teenagers than the previous year.
As we all know, teenage years can be a difficult time, we feel like no one understands us and most teenagers feel insecure. Imagine how a young person who cannot live with their own family will feel. At this critical time in their lives, they need clear guidance and support, to help them to make the right decisions and have a successful future.
Teenagers need carers who are reliable, patient and trustworthy, they need to know where they stand. Foster carers need to listen, be someone to talk to and help them to make sense of their worries.
By being placed with the right foster carers, teenagers have a chance to continue with their education and thrive. Teenagers need the right support to organise their lives, to deal with their feelings and have good times with friends and where possible, stay in touch with their family. They need to develop life skills, to help prepare them for future independence, such as cooking and managing money.
It is the role of a foster carer to help their foster child achieve this. Fostering teenagers is not easy – there are many challenges to overcome. But with the right training, foster carers can develop the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to deal with the most difficult of placements.
Skilled foster carers needed
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, has said: “Some teenagers in care have faced trauma beyond what can be comprehended by most of us. This means skilled foster carers are urgently needed to help them overcome their trauma, and to help them develop their self-esteem and expectations so that they can achieve their full potential.”
Never give up
Pearl Cotterell, who has fostered teenagers for the past seven years, said: “I always tell the teenagers I look after that no matter what, I’m not giving up on them, and I know they can turn their lives around.
“So many of these young people have never had anyone who believes in them before. If you can instil that faith in them, then it gives them self-worth, and a desire to try and improve themselves, and that makes all the difference.”
Have you got what it takes to foster a teenager?
With a new child entering the care system every 22 minutes and a further 8,700 foster families still needed in the UK this year alone, more people are needed to come forward and make the step to foster. It really is life changing!