Appeal for people to consider fostering teenagers
This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.
We have started a campaign to encourage more people to become foster carers, and we are especially keen to hear from people who might be interested in fostering teenagers.
Last year we successfully placed 141 children with foster families. However with 86 teenage children currently in our care and with year-on-year increases, both locally and nationally, the council is appealing for more people to come forward.
Teresa and Jason Prewett from Pucklechurch have been fostering teenage girls for nine years and currently foster a 14 year old and a 17 year old. “My mother fostered teenage girls when I was growing up, and I wanted to do what she did,” said Teresa, 36. “I had seen how it brought stability to young people’s lives, helped them through difficult times and set them on a good course.
“Most stay with us for a couple of years. I had one child of my own when I started fostering, and now I have four. There is a nice age gap between my own children, who are still young, and the teenagers.
“There can be lots of challenging behaviour, but it is easier to communicate with a teenager and discuss their problems. I can remember what it was like to be a teenager. There have been incidents when we have questioned whether it was right for us, but we have always worked it through.
“We have now fostered around 20 teenage girls, and apart from a couple who only stayed with us a few weeks, all have stayed in touch. We communicate through Facebook and mobile phones, and we see most of them regularly. It is good when they come back and ask for advice. I’ve been at the birth of their children, and one asked my husband to give her away at her wedding.
“My advice to anyone considering fostering is that a child needs love and stability. If you can provide that you will make a fantastic foster parent. The council provides training, there is a ‘buddy’ system between foster carers, and support is available 24 hours a day. You can always get help and advice.”
“I had no previous association with fostering,” said Jason, 41, “but my mother was a respite nurse and worked with children and I remember accompanying her to activity groups for disabled children.
“When I first met Teresa she was already passionate about fostering and knew that was what she wanted to do. We discussed it right from the start. I wanted to give something back so I was happy to become to do it. We were younger than most fosterers so the idea of taking in teenagers didn’t bother us.
“As a foster carer, you bring children into your home to help them, and they inevitably come with issues. You can’t ignore it. You work with them and try and address their problems, give them goals and set them on a positive path.
“Apart from the ones who have only stayed for a short time we have stayed in touch with all of them. They invite us to parties and come round to see us. We had twenty four people in our house at Christmas!
“I was a transport manager when I started, but through fostering I decided to retrain as a youth worker. I’ve set up my own mentoring company and I run youth clubs. Fostering opened up a new career and helped change my direction in life.”
Cllr Ian Blair, Chair of South Gloucestershire Council’s Children and Young People Committee, said: “We would like to hear from anyone who thinks they could foster some of the children in our care and are especially keen to hear from anyone who is interested in fostering some of our older children.
“Foster carers come from all age groups and backgrounds. There are many people who would make excellent foster carers but count themselves out simply because they think they won’t be eligible. In fact many are surprised to find that, like Teresa and Jason, that they are just what we’re looking for.
“We urgently need people who can provide stable homes on a long and short-term basis, particularly older children, sibling groups and children with disabilities. We offer training and support and our friendly team can talk through the options available and what kind of fostering best suits you and your circumstances.
“Being a foster carer is both rewarding and challenging and can make a real difference to a young person’s life. By dispelling some of the myths we hope more people will get in touch.”
We will be holding an open evening at 7pm on Thursday 12 February at the Badminton Road offices in Yate for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer.
Alternatively you can contact our fostering team by visiting www.fostersouthglos.org.uk or calling 0800 206 1443.
Some of the most commonly-held myths surrounding foster care include:
Myth: I’m too old to foster.
Fact: Applicants interested in fostering will be considered irrespective of age, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. All that we ask is that you are in good health and physically able to meet the needs of the child in foster care.
Myth: I live in a small rented house – I won’t qualify.
Fact: You don’t need a big house or even own your own home to be a foster carer. As long as you are in a long term tenancy, in a well maintained property and have room for a child, it doesn’t matter what size your home is. A child will need their own bedroom and space to keep personal belongings.
Myth: Foster caring is only an option for families with children.
Fact: Having your own children means you can bring knowledge and experience to fostering, but lots of children are successfully placed with foster carers who do not have children of their own.
Myth: You have to be married or in a relationship to foster a child.
Fact: Single people as well as married couples and same sex couples can foster.
Myth: You can’t choose which age group you would like to care for.
Fact: You decide which type of fostering best suits your family and circumstances. Children and young people of all ages need foster carers ranging from babies and toddlers, 3-12 year-olds and teenagers. Currently we are particularly keen to find people to look after teenagers, sibling groups and children with disabilities.
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