Basic strategies for for providing foster care for teenagers

If you foster, the most important thing to do is to demonstrate that you really care – all the time! Many teenagers find themselves caught up in the care system having experienced the most turbulent events that would test most adults. These teenagers may never have known normal family life – or anything approaching it.

Foster good listening skills

One of the most effective ways of demonstrating a supporting and caring attitude is just to listen. If you can, it may be the first time in their life that a teenager truly feels they have been listened to. If you, as a foster carer, can Maintain an outward calm and respectful manner, a teenager is likely to  feel they are in a stable situation. The great benefit this brings is to make them feel secure – perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Foster the security that comes with setting rules

If you can set some basic ground rules, this can be fundamental in creating a feeling of stability. From this will flow a sense of security. It is this that can make all the difference. It is wise not to attempt to set too many rules. It is much better to create say four to six very simple basic rules that are then adhered to. This is all about creating a sense of structure. Again, this could well sit outside the experience of a teenager. Much, if not most, of their lives, may have been spent in a random way without any day to day structure. So one simple rule, for example, when to be back home at night is a good place to start. The essential point is that a rule is consistently applied. Depending on the age of the teenager you are providing foster care for, reasonable discussion is a good idea. This can help a teenager to begin to feel a sense of personal responsibility. Ideally, a rule should never just be imposed without there being a context: put simply, why it is a rule that has merits.

Carers as role models

Perhaps the single most important consideration any foster carer should give when fostering teenagers is that at a critical time in a young person’s development, the foster care is the role model. And being an effective role model has the most far-reaching effects. It can give shape and direction to a young person’s life. It may seem simplistic, but if a foster carer consistently demonstrates they care for a child, this builds trust which is essential for building a relationship.

Understanding the physical and psychological changes that affect teenagers is particularly important. Carers looking after teens will need to be able to cope with their mood swings that can be caused by hormones as well as feelings of insecurity. This can affect all youngsters, but those who have a background in foster care can be especially vulnerable. All teenagers can be moody and oversensitive. A carer who can demonstrate empathy by remaining calm and supportive will find they are much more likely to create a bond with the person they are fostering. It may be challenging, but it will be rewarding you will be playing a key role in guiding a young person through one of the most significant developmental stages in life.                   

More carers are needed to care for teenagers

This year has seen another rise in the numbers of children and young people coming into care. It is particularly challenging finding enough foster carers to provide homes for teenagers. At Caring Hearts Fostering, we would like to meet anyone who might be giving consideration to becoming a foster carer – especially if they would consider looking after a teenager.

To be a foster carer…

To foster with Caring Hearts Fostering you need to be a British citizen. We can accept an application if you have permanent leave to remain in the UK. You also need to be over 21 and have a spare room for the exclusive use of a child or young person. If you already possess professional experience working with children, you might be interested to discover more about the professional opportunities we provide for training in therapeutic fostering. Whatever your fostering ambitions might be, we will guide and support you every step of the way.