Thinking of fostering teenagers?
Many people gravitate towards wanting to foster younger children, usually because they think little ones are easier to manage. Unfortunately, this means teenagers in care often get overlooked. As a result, these young people are left without the essential care and support they require during a pivotal period in their lives.
Adolescence is a time of significant change, and it can be overwhelming and stressful. In addition to this, they’re likely to have a traumatic history, with neglect and abuse being common reasons children are placed into care. Teenagers need stability, guidance, and empathy, which highlights the urgent need for more foster carers to step forward. By fostering teenagers, you can provide them with the necessary support to heal from their past experiences, manage the transition into adulthood, and achieve a brighter future.
Take a chance on teenagers
Becoming a foster carer to a teenager and helping them become self-assured adults is a wonderful privilege, and it can be a transformative experience for you and them. Contrary to what you might think, fostering teenagers can actually be less challenging than caring for younger children. Unlike young children, teenagers don't require constant supervision as they spend most of their time at school with friends, giving them greater independence. This means you can concentrate your efforts on providing them with guidance, helping them overcome their difficulties, and teaching them important life skills.
You get to use your life experience to help them deal with the changes that occur during puberty and all the stress that comes with completing their education. It’s normal for teens to lack self-esteem and feel uncertain about the future, but for those in care, their trauma can often hold them back.
That’s why they need a devoted foster carer to provide stability, safety and security as they take these important steps towards adulthood.
Caring for a teenager involves:
- Helping them develop important life-skills to encourage independence.
- Making sure they get the most out of their education.
- Helping them deal with typical teenage stresses, as well as overcome their difficult pasts.
- Facilitate contact with their family to help with the chance of reunification.
Unlike younger children, teenagers require fewer physical demands like feeding and nappy changing, as they can handle basic needs themselves. Additionally, teenagers tend to have a more independent lifestyle, with full-time education, hobbies, and social activities, giving foster carers more flexibility.
Communication and boundaries
Another advantage of fostering teenagers is their ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings more effectively, making it easier for foster carers to provide appropriate care and build a closer relationship. Moreover, teenagers often have a better understanding of boundaries, privacy, and personal space, which foster carers can appreciate.
Fostering teenagers can allow carers to become role models for them, teaching them essential life skills like cooking, budgeting, self-care, interview preparation, managing the stress of exams and dealing with romantic relationships (if age appropriate). They might not have had a significant adult take interest in their life before, so to be that person to guide them and give them direction is very rewarding.
Break the cycle
You can make a positive impact on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and trauma by providing teenagers with a stable and supportive environment to grow in. Many teenagers thrive in their foster homes and achieve goals they may have thought were impossible or not in their future.
4 Reasons to foster a teenager
Caring for teenagers in foster care can be a highly fulfilling and enjoyable experience. Although every child’s past is unique to them, affecting how they behave and show their emotions, teenagers are typically more mature and independent. This can make your fostering journey easier and more satisfying.
Tips for fostering teens
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a teenage foster child.
- Encourage open communication with your foster child by being transparent, empathetic, and approachable. Foster carers should create a safe space where their foster child feels comfortable to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Active listening without judgment is key to building a strong relationship.
- Respecting teenagers' privacy is also essential. As teenagers require their personal space, foster carers should respect their boundaries, knock before entering their room (which is true for a foster child of any age), and ensure their foster siblings ask for permission before using belongings.
- Encourage teenagers to be more independent by providing them with opportunities to make decisions and take on responsibilities. This can help to build their self-esteem and confidence.
- Foster carers should also establish clear boundaries and expectations to create a sense of structure and stability. Communication is essential, and carers should clearly communicate expectations and follow through with consequences if necessary.
Do I need to have a spare room to foster?
Yes, you’ll need to have a spare bedroom to foster a child.
There are a number of different reasons why you need a spare bedroom in your home. Primarily it is part of the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards stating every child over the age of three should have their own bedroom. But not only this, there are many other factors such as the child’s safety, security and privacy to also consider.
A child needs their own bedroom to provide a sense of security and dedicated space to play or be creative without distraction.
What kind of support will I receive?
We wouldn’t expect anyone to foster without the right support, so when you foster with FCA Scotland you are not alone.
Become a foster carer with us and you have access to:
- Social Work Support– you will have a dedicated supervising social worker who is your main point of contact and will organise monthly meetings and support for you whenever you need it
- 24 / 7 support
- Training and development - We will prepare you to foster and keep developing your skills with an ongoing training programme featuring both face to face and online courses through our Learnative portal.
- Events and activities – we host a range of events and activities for all the family to enjoy.
- Online portal – Join our online community with our Carer Portal The Exchange just for FCA Scotland foster carers. It gives you free and instant access to information and advice right when you need it – day or night, 365 days a year. Plus access to a range of discounts to some major retailers and online stores.
- Fostering Network membership - useful and practical benefits, including insurance, legal protection, medical and stress advice helplines, as well as a foster care magazine.
What training will I receive as a foster carer?
We pride ourselves on being a learning organisation and are proactive in helping both our foster carers and employees to develop their skills, knowledge and experience.
We are committed to providing high quality training that is accessible and relevant to all of our foster carers.
Can I still work and be a foster carer?
In some cases it is still possible for you to continue working on a part-time or flexible basis depending on your individual circumstances.
Ideally we ask for at least one foster carer to be available for fostering on a full-time basis, so that we can ensure that the child or young person in your care is being looked after in the best way possible. As a foster carer, you have responsibility for day-to-day tasks; the school run, be available during school holidays, attend medical appointments on behalf or with your child, attend training, review meetings. Should you have a problem on an odd occasion, your supervising social worker can help you make alternative arrangements.
Do I get any breaks or holidays while fostering?
We do offer respite your supervising social worker can speak to you about what it entails.
Is there a maximum age to foster?
There really is no maximum age limit for fostering with us and many of our foster carers continue to foster well into their 70s.
All we ask is that you’re still able to fulfill the more active side of fostering – such as the school run and outdoor activities – and that you can do so with enthusiasm and energy.
Become a foster carer with FCA Scotland
Could you give a teenager a loving, supportive home? Please get in touch with us today and make the first step towards changing a young person’s life. Enter your town or postcode to find your nearest office or get in touch today.
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Other types of fostering
Short break fostering
Also known as respite fostering, this is where a foster carer takes on the care and support of a child or young person so that the usual foster carer can take a well-deserved break. We offer all of our foster carers respite care every year.
Interim fostering involves caring for a baby, child or young person for a few weeks or months while difficulties at home are resolved and is often linked to further assessments of the young person or family members together with court processes.
Continuing care takes children through to the age of 21, ensuring a more seamless and supported transition to adulthood. It’s available to all young people who are, or have been, in a continuing relationship with a foster carer.
In some cases, it’s often important for the child or young person to be a ‘solo’ placement - in other words, they’re the only child in the home. That means solo fostering is usually only suitable for foster carers without other children in their home.
Keeping brothers and sisters together after being placed in foster care is crucial. This type of fostering focuses on matching sibling groups with foster homes big enough for multiple foster children and foster parents who are capable of meeting their needs.
Calling for huge amounts of care, compassion and patience, this type of fostering often involves handling medications and managing complex care routines, so it’s especially demanding on your time and commitment.
Asylum seeking children
Fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children can be extremely rewarding experience as you provide them with a safe and secure home environment. Your role is to support them for as long as they need, helping them adapt to a new culture.