I wanted to write this blog to share some insight into the world of fostering teenagers. The mainstream media tend to focus on the awful stories about fostering, which does nothing to promote it. Perhaps they think the lovely stories make for bad reading. But I can tell you first-hand, for every sad story, there are hundreds of fabulous, uplifting ones.
Unprecedented Demand for Carers
We receive in the region of 50 referrals every day, with Teenagers amongst the most prolific. Sadly, we turn away the vast majority of them because the carers just aren’t there.
There are so many young people out there that have experienced neglect, abuse, mental health issues, bereavement….the list goes on. It breaks our hearts that we are not in a position to help them all.
So many lovely people get in touch wanting to foster babies but they often won’t consider older children. Sadly, that is why we see so many referrals for older children. We totally understand why carers want the younger ones, but with so many carers putting themselves forward for them, there is no shortage.
Turning Their Lives Around
Teenagers are often stigmatised, and the newspapers certainly don’t help that! But we have many lovely teenagers, fostered by our carers, that have totally turned themselves around. They’ve made something of their lives, which without the help of their carers, could have been very different.
Young people in care have anxieties that stem from their past. They can often feel rejected, lack confidence and find it difficult to trust adults. Carers that show them respect, have patience and listen to their worries will gain their respect and give them a chance to overcome their fears and make a life for themselves.
Carers of older children play an important role in guiding and mentoring them to independence. They give them friendship, when they struggle to make friends, giving them purpose, inspiration and motivation when they need it. Teenagers more often than not crave adult interaction and want to better themselves, actively engaging with their carers in a positive way.
Help Us to Help Them
I know my words won’t convince people to rush out and put themselves forward to foster a teenager, but I’d like to think it gives them food for thought, to think how the rewards of helping a young person find themselves can be so worthwhile.
Whilst writing this, I have seen 5 referrals for teenagers come through, and for every one, I have had to reply “sorry, we can’t help”. You can help us to help them. Keep an open mind, it is far more rewarding than most people realise, and if you have ever considered fostering, give this some thought, these young people need people like you!
If this sounds like something you could do, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.