There is a need for at least 8,000 new fostering families in the UK over the next year. There is a specific need for foster carers to look after teenagers. Teenagers are a group that many shy away from. Just because teenagers are older children, it doesn’t mean they need any less love, care or attention. When fostering a teenager, you are looking after an older child who has already started to develop some of the important skills that will help in adult life but will still need support, care and assistance as they get closer to adulthood.
As a foster parent of a teenager, you’ll have to fulfil most of the roles a parent usually would. You’ll provide for your teen’s general needs such as making sure they’ve got enough clothes and are healthy and well fed, help them with their education, and listen to them with a consistent, loving family environment. Most fostered teenagers will have had a difficult start to life so may require extra support and stability.
If you already have children, it’s important that they’re prepared for the fostered teenager’s arrival and that they feel they can voice any concerns or issues before or during their stay. You may want to check in on them from time to time to make sure they’re getting on ok. Otherwise, fostered teenagers are mostly like any other teenagers. They can be a handful and may be prone to the occasional bouts of moodiness, but what they really need is the love, stability and support of a good caregiver.
Be aware that it may be a little while before things feel more normal. Some teenagers will be happy to open up quickly, whereas others may need some time. If a teenager has come from a situation where they’ve had to look after themselves, they may seem quite self-sufficient, but it’s also likely they’ll need your support and care. Don’t forget, there’s no shame in needing a little help yourself. Both you and your teenager will have social workers assigned to you. Your fostering agency will be able to provide advice, and there is a helpline you can call if you’re finding things difficult.
The reward and satisfaction you get from fostering when you see that you have made a difference to a teenager’s life is huge. In some instances, this could be the smallest of changes for the child that could change their life. If you would like to find out more about how you could foster a teenager, please get in touch.