Fostering teenagers can be much easier and a lot more fun than you may think.
Across the UK, there is a real need for foster parents to care for teenagers.
Many people who first consider fostering often think that younger children will be easier and less challenging than older young people.
But fostering teenagers is often very different as this quote from a teenager in Fostering People's care shows.
“I love living here because the bedclothes smell nice and fresh."
We have seen teenagers come to live with our foster parents and achieve incredible things.
One young person aged 14, whilst living with his foster parents, went on to achieve a BSc and Master’s degree, whilst his brother has a successful apprenticeship in electrical engineering.
These two young men didn’t exhibit any challenging or antisocial behaviour, and they have both grown into friendly and wonderful adults.
There is no denying that, due to their age, teenagers have often been exposed to more trauma in their lives. But this doesn’t make them more challenging. They might be angry (and who can blame them?), but they are likely to be angry at their circumstances, not at their foster parents. By showing a little bit of care and interest in their life, the rewards can be huge.
Teenagers can laugh with you, they may cry with you and they will often look after you when you too are feeling low in a way that children and young people are unable to do.
Foster care can be tough, irrespective of a child’s age, but that’s where our support comes in. We are always available to our foster parents, whenever advice and support are needed.
Teenagers need guidance, care and support just as much as younger children and we believe their age shouldn’t stand in the way of them receiving this and it's never too late to make a difference to a teenager’s life.
Young People deserve the opportunity to shine and to be the best that they can possibly be. If you think you can provide a safe and caring foster home for a child over 10, to help them reach their potential, get in touch today.
If you are interested in the idea of fostering a teenager, but anxious about what this might mean for you, we have highlighted a few of the myths to dispel those associated with looking after older children. We hope this is helpful and, from this, you are able to give the idea of fostering teenagers more consideration.
Teenagers are trouble
There is a myth that teenagers are in care because they are ‘beyond parental control’. In reality, older children are in care for the same reasons as younger children; they have been abused or neglected within their own families, or their parents have been unable to keep them safe.
Teenagers can't be shaped in the same way as younger children.
It is true that the human brain develops most quickly in the first 2 years of life, but research suggests that a young person’s brain is still developing into their early 20s. Fostering People ensure all our foster parents receive training in therapeutic parenting. Alongside the safe and stable home environment that foster families provide, this can give teenagers the tools needed to make positive changes to their brain development at a stage of their life where they are making key decisions about their future. In foster care, they are protected and feel safe enough to allow their brains to exercise this new capacity to control their actions.
You can't foster teenagers if you are too young or too old.
While it is true that the majority of foster parents could be loosely described as ‘middle-aged’ (around three quarters of Fostering People’s foster parents are aged between 40 and 60), we also have some fantastic foster parents who are younger than that, and others that are older. It’s more important to have energy and to be receptive to new ideas and experiences, than to a specific age. People in their 20s can be foster parents so long as they have the maturity needed, while upper age limits do not exist, so long as you don’t have any health concerns that could limit your ability to foster.
You must have experience of caring for teenagers
Just because you haven’t parented or cared for older children before, doesn’t mean that you’re unable to foster teenagers. Sometimes it can actually be an advantage to not have had your own teenage children, because that enables you to approach fostering without pre-conceived ideas about how they should behave. You do, however, need to want to make a difference to their lives and a determination to love and protect them. If you are apprehensive, remember that you will be part of the Fostering People team and we will be there to provide training, support, supervision and the assistance of our consultant therapist. What you do need to have is a strong desire to open your heart to young people who need to be loved and protected. Of course, if you have, or have had, teenagers of your own, you will know about the particular demands of looking after young people as they approach adulthood. You will also be part of support groups with other foster families in the same boat as you, who will be happy to share their experiences and advice.
Foster care is a great direction to take in your life. Our foster parents see it as a rewarding role that allows them to help young people develop and grow while earning a generous allowance.
Providing excellent support to our foster parents is what Fostering People is all about. Our support has an outstanding reputation and is highly accredited.
Every foster child is an individual, that’s why we offer various kinds of fostering placements.
The types of fostering you offer will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances, but many of our foster parents are approved to offer more than one type of placement.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent and would like to learn more, then we’d love to hear from you.
Simply fill in the form below and one of our friendly team will be in touch.
Why do children need foster care?
Children need foster care for all sorts of reasons including as a result of family breakdown or illness. They could have become the subject of a child protection order after experiencing abuse and neglect or their parents may be ill and unable to care for them. Whatever the reason, our foster parents offer these children a safe, stable home for as long as they need it. Find out more about why children need foster care.
Will I be able to meet the child before the placement begins?
In most cases, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the child you’ll be caring for. However, this isn’t always possible – especially if a child is placed in an emergency. Where this happens, we’ll share as much information as possible with you before you decide to welcome the child into your home.
How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?
We give our foster parents as much information as possible about a child before the placement begins. In short, whatever we know, you’ll know too.