The word ‘fostering’ conjures of babies and little children who need our care and protection and of course, they do. Sometimes, we forget that teenagers are exactly the same; they’re still vulnerable children and they still need our help.
The description of young people as being ‘adolescents’, ‘youths’, ‘juveniles’ can offer a negative vision of a someone who’s going to cause trouble and it would be naïve of us to say young people won’t be a challenge – all types of fostering are a challenge - but the reality is many of them are easier to care for than the babies and little ones as they can have a conversation with foster carers about their needs and hopes for the future and there is still time to guide them onto the right path with boundaries and understanding.
Recent statistics released from BAAF indicate that of the 68,840 of young people who were in care on 31st March 2014, 39,600 were over 10 years old (58%). This demonstrates the need for foster carers to be open minded and consider providing support for teenagers as well as younger children.
Our foster carers tell us that looking after teenagers offers the bonus of being with someone with whom you can interact. Someone who has a fresh perspective on life, someone who is curious, unique and engaging. They’ll challenge your ideas, your beliefs and your strategies; they’ll keep you on your toes as you see their personality emerging and you build their trust.
And in return, you’ll give them life opportunities they may not have otherwise. You’ll help them to achieve their goals and become self-sufficient adults so please, consider fostering a teenager and enrich their life and yours.