Fostering and the teenage experience

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Fostering and the teenage experience

Another in our series of blogs on the issues that relate to teenagers in care. Fostering young adults can bring unique pressures. Many people who go into fostering do so with the idea of looking after babies or very young children. At the moment there are many teenagers who need a foster home. There are important aspects to the life of a young adult that can mean if you foster a teenager it can be particularly rewarding. It may help to change the usual perception of teenagers as being difficult and challenging, if one looks at the world through ‘teenage eyes’. And especially how their experiences of fostering will have shaped their attitudes, expectations and behaviours. We are all the sum total of our experiences, and teenagers in the care system will have a great deal to put up with. Understanding what has been their fostering reality can influence positively the decision to foster a teenager.

You might well be the last person they can ever think of as family. If they have been in multiple placements, they will have little understanding of what secure and stable home life is like. They may have no experience of anyone being interested in guiding them through early life – and certainly no one to genuinely care about their future. But if you decide on fostering a teenager there are rewards such as supporting them through the important years at college – being with them when they graduate. You may become so important to them that they will want to have you in their lives at important times for them such as marriage or the birth of their child(ren).

Being in foster care can be gruelling for a teenager. They may have never been able to settle into a fostering placement. They may have had expectations which never materialised of returning home. It may be that they were unable to build a relationship with any of the foster carers they have been looked after by. This is common if they have experienced many placement breakdowns. If you are the last foster carer they have, you are in a unique position to give them the best family experience they have ever had. Simple things like watching a television programme together, or cooking a meal – perhaps even a day out. These might be things a teenager has never experienced. The things that make a home feel like a home. The simple act of eating together at a regular time can make a young person feel a sense of security and normality.

Teenagers in care can feel especially vulnerable. It can be easier to ‘run away’ from a situation rather than confront it. A foster carer can help a young person to start to develop the confidence they need to deal with stressful, difficult situations. There can be few things more rewarding than helping a teenager to create their own coping strategies. These are important life skills and to foster them in a young, vulnerable person is a life affirming thing to do.

Teenagers are nothing if not impressionable: this means that, with skill and patience, they can be guided to take an interest in all sorts of things that they might never have imagined. This can range from politics, the world around them – perhaps environmental issues. Stimulating a young mind can be very enriching for a foster carer – and there are few things more energising than spending time with young people. Fostering keeps you young in mind and spirit!

Our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ fostering scheme.
We pay a bonus of £500, if you are a foster carer and can refer someone to take up fostering. After their first placement – following your referral – we will pay the bonus. Already an approved foster carer and have a long term fostering placement, then transfer to Rainbow: you will be eligible for a bonus.

The latest fostering news is out…
The Rainbow ‘Read All About It’ news section can be found on our website. If you want to catch up with more news about uk fostering and related issues simply visit http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK

And the good news at the end of this fostering Rainbow…we had some excellent feedback from the work we did to promote Foster Care Fortnight. Thanks to all who responded so well to our social media fostering campaign!

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