In the UK alone, a child goes into care with the need for a foster family every 20 minutes. The Fostering Network suggests that more than 7,000 new foster carers are in need in the coming year. This is to ensure all children can find the right foster family that suits their needs.
The same study conducted by the charity found that a massive 97% of fostering services have a particular need of foster carers for teenagers and an equally massive 86% have a need of foster carers for sibling groups. This being said across the UK, 60% of looked after children are teenagers and around 455 groups of siblings have been separated after being assessed to live together.
Teenagers are often placed with foster carers who live far from their families, friends and schools and are more often than not being separated from their siblings. Placing them in circumstances that are outside their comfort zone can lead to short-term stays in different homes rather than finding a foster carer that meets the child’s circumstance for the long-term. It’s important that teenagers get the best care to bring stability and happiness to a young person’s life. Moving from home to home can be hugely detrimental to their wellbeing and education, with it also having an effect on how they maintain relationships within their lives.
There is a misconception with fostering teenagers, one that paints them to be challenging to look after, with many people preferring to offer homes to younger children. Teenagers may have witnessed drug and alcohol abuse and will need a stable and loving family to show them what a family can be like. It is not about increasing the number of foster carers for teenagers but building up genuine relationships with foster families that have been trained and are prepared to deal with specific issues. Carers need to become the teenagers support network rather than giving up and having them move to another family.
Sibling relationships are emotionally powerful and critically important, not only in childhood, but over the course of their lifetime. Children can learn social skills, particularly sharing and managing conflict, along with providing a significant source of continuity. Siblings are in need of more foster families to come forward that are able to take siblings together. This will avoid separation anxiety and will help overcome a difficult time, as adoption can be a testing for a child and having someone who can relate is hugely beneficial.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer for teenagers and siblings or want to find out more information in regards to the current fostering situation, you can get in touch with a member of the Little Acorns team by visiting our contact page or by giving us a call on 01440 732010.