- Fostering teenagers is a hugely rewarding and often overlooked type of foster care.
- Teenagers are learning to develop independence and make tougher decisions as they enter adulthood, a stable foster home can help support that.
- Our foster parents love the positive outcomes they inspire for teenagers in care!
There is a real need in Wales and England for foster families for teenagers. Let’s look at the figures at the end of March 2017 for Wales. Of the 5,955 looked after children and young people, 580 were 16 or 17 years old. 2,165 were 10 to 15 years old. That’s 2,745 or 46% of all children and young people in care. In England, The largest age group (39%) are aged 10-15 years; 24% are aged 16 years and over. Over the last 5 years the average age of CLA has been steadily increasing.
It’s commonly thought that teenagers are more of a challenge to parent than younger children. It's more of a matter that it is a different experience rather than a more challenging one. It is true that this age group is an age group at a time of great change. This means that they are in the grip of changing hormones and emerging sexuality. Part of the worrisome aspect of teenage sexuality is that young women in care are twice as likely to become pregnant before they are 19 than young women not in care.
Aside from the hormones and sexuality, teenagers are also becoming more aware of impending adulthood. With this awareness, there is apt to be fears about what will happen to them when they turn 18. Any insecurity they have ever had can emerge and at this time, when they may feel pressured to be grown up, they feel uncertain and afraid of the unknown. They are also more apt to have trust issues and to be uncommunicative.
More often than not, these young adults have had a lengthy experience of being in care and having been through several placements. Whether they are in their first placement or have been in care since birth, it can be a very traumatic time. Their experience, regardless of how long or why they are in the system, is often reflected in their behaviour.
Youngsters are taken from their family home by local authorities for a variety of reasons ranging from violence and abuse to illness and death. Whatever the reason, they need a caring home that will provide shelter from the causes of why they were removed from their families. Their childhood has been interrupted.
The peer group is important in the lives of teenagers. This is the source of their social life and their daily interactions. Being removed from their peer group and being placed in a new fostering environment is an additional disruption that adds to the challenges of the situation. With enough carers available in their family's environment, it is possible that they may be able to attend the same school and maintain their social affiliations. However, all too often this is not the case.
This is why independent agencies such as Family Fostering Partners are seeking carers who have space, patience, and the skills to build a connection with someone who has difficulty trusting others. We have services throughout England and Wales and we need foster parents.
If you are interested in knowing more about this rewarding career, contact us for more information. We provide support and training and actively recruit foster parents who have room in their homes and love in their hearts for a teenager.