The highest demand for foster carers is for caring for older children and teenagers; sadly, this is the most challenging age for children to find foster homes. Teenagers generally tend to get bad press by the nature of their age, and for older children in the care system, adolescence is when the clock ticks loudly.
This clock is not just hormonal or the feeling of the need to sleep your life away, as many older children and teenagers do. This clock is ticking loudly, as many older children in care are now vulnerable because they are getting older, and subsequently, they no longer have support.
So, for these older children, the likelihood of finding a foster home with a foster carer is slim due to the ‘labels’ attached to older children that don’t exist. Thankfully, foster carers who foster older children and teenagers know the reality is different. These foster carers understand older children and teenagers’ needs; consequently, they see the difference they make for children and young people’s lives, which is life-changing.
We need to change the perceptions on fostering older children and teenagers.
Sadly, some agencies’ descriptions of teenagers and older children have complex needs and behavioural issues. They say, ‘mostly, we have older children and teenagers who typically have behavioural issues; they can be challenging!’ I know this is not true. Teenagers are complex and challenging by nature; they learn and crave independence; subsequently, combining insecurity into the mix is potent.
It is especially challenging for an older child or teenager in care who has no experience living in a family environment with boundaries and guidance. These young people need specialist care and support from people who recognise the importance of getting it right, and consequently, this is where Not for Profit Charities and their support networks excel.
We need foster carers to meet children’s needs, however old they are.
We must have foster carers to match the needs of older children and teenagers because they need people to take a chance on them, however old they are. Equally as important, we need outstanding support reflected from the agency or Charity whom foster carers represent.
Often we have met someone in our lives who took a chance on us.
We have often met somebody who took a chance on us in our lives. Usually, they saw something in us that we couldn’t see ourselves; however, they made a vast difference in our lives. The difference often takes years of reflection to understand the enormity of what they did for us finally, and; often fought against them.
We often treat them with suspicion; finally, the penny dropped, and we began to realise this person was slightly different from everyone else. This person means what they say, and thankfully, they will not give up. So, for a young person who had a difficult start in life, this person is the difference between having a successful life or not; and it is a huge difference.
Government legislation means ‘care’ for children over 16 will now end.
The Together Trust is a Not for Profit Charity. They are campaigning to challenge new legislation for young people and teenagers in care…’ The UK Government introduced new legislation in September 2021; they will ban councils from putting children aged 15 or younger in unregulated accommodation. This unregulated accommodation is often bedsits, flats and shared housing. However, Ministers say 16 and 17 year-olds don’t need this protection; they can manage in accommodation where they don’t receive any care. The onus is the word care, as these older children will receive national accommodation standards but with no care. The Government’s actions create a two-tier care system; children aged 15 and younger are guaranteed care, and those aged 16 and 17 are not” https://secure.togethertrust.org.uk/uk-government-keep-caring?
We need foster carers to take a chance on teenagers and won’t give up on them!
‘Maybe, someone saw something in you and took a chance, and your path in life changed? Perhaps a teacher or a neighbour saw something in you that genuinely touched them enough to show they cared? Sometimes you didn’t know you needed it; however, they did, and more importantly, they didn’t give up.” Subsequently, they gave this act of kindness, whether you wanted it or not.
Older children and teenagers are not what the label says; often, children challenge because they feel pushed. Maybe, if we stopped forcing children and started to guide them, we begin to create trust? Maybe if foster carers take time to get to know young people, they will see something in them and make a change for the better?
No one deserves a start in life that subsequently dictates their future due to a label that says they are challenging.” Yet, we hear it more and more, especially by some agencies who know they can charge Local Authorities more because of it.
When I heard this description, I thought,” how qualified are you to make this statement? Have you ever worked with teenagers, and on what statistics have you made this assumption. I put pay to these myths; they are not valid. We can, and we do, make a difference in young people’s lives daily by being ourselves and not listening to labels.
My young ladies with an answer for everything before they even knew the question…
My career has involved working with older children for many years. I have mentored, counselled and provided advocacy for children. However, my favourite role was as a Tutor, teaching Childcare studies to a group of young ladies in an alternative education centre in Bolton.
I knew the challenge I was taking on as these young ladies, all teenagers at risk of becoming NEET, basically hated the idea of Childcare. My challenge was to educate young ladies who had an answer for everything before they even knew the questions?
Also, it was an excuse for these young ladies to get out of school for a day; they didn’t have to wear a uniform, and they could smoke. So, their teachers breathed a collective sigh of relief when the minibus picked them up and brought them to me once a week.
These ladies regularly drove me round the bend, they challenged me, and I challenged them, and I relentlessly batted away their criticisms. However, I threw their negativity away, in the same way I threw their cigarettes away, and I instilled in them a self-belief that if they put their mind to it, they could achieve it, and we would work it out together.
When you peel away layers of mistrust, trust is gained.
However, we loved our challenges, and I learned more from my girls than I ever thought I would. These ladies taught me resilience, and once we began to peel the layers collectively, we earned our trust together; and flourished together.
The outcomes for my ladies? We now have one young lady from three generations of families where the Mumdidn’tt work; she is now a Nursery manager. She’s 23 and has her own home with a mortgage; a further two ladies went to college and studied Childcare and the final young woman? This young woman went on to University; she is becoming the one thing she hated as a child in care; she wants to be a Social worker.
And, the difference these young ladies brought to me?
And the difference for me? I met these amazing ladies who gave me the chance to be a part of their lives for a year; it gave me the confidence I needed to say, ‘don’t believe the myths” My ethos is to see the opportunity in someone, give them a chance and stick with them. In truth, if we believe in them, then ultimately, we will all achieve actualisation.
Are you the difference young people in care need?
Many people who inquire into foster care have abundant experience in caring for children and young people; they are wonderful. However, young people need foster carers with the determination and tenacity to deliver actual outcomes. But, our Government says that young people will not continue to have care after a certain age, this is wrong. However, campaigns take time to gain momentum, and decisions take time to overturn; sadly, the time to find a foster home is now for many young people.
Verve recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit Charities sector. Every penny of profit made is invested back into providing support networks that young people need. Furthermore, they invest all profit, not just some, and don’t pay shareholders bonuses and dividends. They do what they do because they care. For many young people in care, the clock is ticking; we need to get a grip on our teenagers and bring them into our homes, making sure they have equal chances to a safer and better future.
If you want to chat about fostering with a Not for Profit Charity, get in touch on the form below. There’s no cost and no commitment, just honest advice on the fostering process and the benefits of fostering with Charities in your community.