Each year, around 85,000 children and young people spend time in the care system in the UK. Most of these will live with foster families, some will return home or live with birth family members, a small proportion will be adopted and others will move on to independent adult life.
Unfortunately, fostering services all over the UK, including Little Acorns Fostering, are finding it difficult to find foster carers for teenagers in care. The ideal for most wanting to foster is to have a younger child but with new adoption laws, most younger children are adopted very quickly. Many families have a perception that teenagers are more challenging to look after than younger children. Though this may sometimes be the case, teenagers can be generally easier to care for as they are already semi-independent and are not in need of constant attention from their carer. What they need is something very different. They need an understanding of their identity and support through the testing times of their adolescent years. They have their own lives and friendships and so, a more natural respite from the demands of fostering can be achieved. It is such a shame that teenagers get such a bad press. They need the love and care all children require and should expect and are not the anti-social individuals most people presume them to be.
We’ve put together some reasons why you should consider fostering a teen:
They need your help, too
Teenage years can be a difficult time for anyone, and it is no different for those in care. Foster carers can have a huge impact on teenagers and their lives; helping them to choose GCSE options, revise for exams or achieve their dreams. Foster carers can feel a great sense of pride watching an older foster child accomplish things they set out to do. Sometimes just being removed from a difficult family circumstance is enough to help them achieve greater things and being given the right advice and guidance and more importantly, a chance is all that’s required. We have many carers that you can talk to, to discuss the wonderful experiences and benefits of fostering an older child. The younger ones are very cute but are adopted so quickly that it is rare that the little ones stay in your care for very long unless they are a sibling group, in which case you can get the experience of many ages all in one go!
They won’t rely on you as much
Most teenagers will already have life experience and won’t rely on their foster carers as much as younger children will. Whilst younger children will have experienced less vulnerability in their lifetime, it’s important not to paint all teenagers with the same brush; many teenagers in care have lived happy and fulfilling childhoods and many of the young people we care for are in full-time education, working or undertaking apprenticeships. Put them in a onesie and they are very similar to a toddler in their baby grow! Teenagers often match well with younger children. They are almost given permission to regress back to younger years during play with a younger child and enjoy being the ‘older sibling and role model’. Local authorities often avoid placing children of similar ages to your birth children due to the conflicts this can create and the needs of so many children of the same age. Teenagers really aren’t as difficult as you may think. It’s more than worth discussing this option as this is the most required demand in age group than people imagine. Little Acorns are experts with older children and strive to re-educate the public opinion that teenagers are difficult ‘Kevin and Perry’ characters ( well not all of the time anyway!)
They could be the ideal placement for you
If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer, talk to us to find out if a teenage placement would work for you. The rewards are endless and you will become a very important person in their lives who they can look up to and call upon when times are difficult.
You’ll be supported
Little Acorns Fostering offers carer support and carer training, as well as a 24-hour support line for those in need at any time. Our foster carer training takes place on a bi-monthly basis and covers a wide range of subjects. We aim to help build foster carers skills and confidence by giving them advice and support regarding how to foster and remember, you’re not alone. We will be with you throughout your experience and ensure you have all the support you need to care for a young person in the care system.