What fostering teenagers is like, and what skills and qualities you'll need to be a good foster carer for them.
There are sometimes misconceptions about teenagers in care which can make it harder to find the caring family home they need. Fostered teenagers are just like any teenagers. They might try to push boundaries sometimes and make some mistakes – just like many of us did in the past. But caring for a teenager can be rewarding and fun.
As a foster carer, you could offer a teenager support that makes a real impact, being there for them, listening and helping them find solutions and make good choices. You will play a key role in developing their independence and confidence for the future.
Anne, long term carer for teenagers said:
“Naturally, you will have your ups and downs but what matters more is the rewards this experience brings you. We have learnt a great deal about ourselves - how to best respond to different situations and, over time, how to guide someone else through life so they can do well.
“We haven't got children of our own and we were worried that we would find it difficult to foster teenagers. The reality was very different – we were all teenagers once so, we could relate to some of their behaviours and situations they were experiencing.
“One of the best things about fostering teens is their growing independence. Together you can work on developing practical skills they will need later in life.”
Ways you can support a teenager in your care
As a foster carer for a teenager, you will:
- build a relationship with a young person which can be amazingly rewarding for both of you
- encourage them to be independent and to behave responsibly
- recognise that all teenagers are risk-takers and need to make mistakes to learn
- support them when they do make mistakes but also set and keep boundaries
- help them build up their self–esteem
- help them stay safe and informed about relationships, personal safety, drugs and other social situations that are important in this age range
- encourage their aspirations and education
- help them get through school, find work and move towards independence
- help them learn the skills they need for adult life, like cooking, cleaning and budgeting
- be there for them, be their advocate, and be ready to listen when they are ready to talk
Martyna, a young care leaver, speaks about her experiences growing up in foster care and how the support of her foster carers changed her life.
Who can foster teenagers
Our foster carers come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnic groups.
Your age, gender, whether you own a home or not, is not important – it's what you can offer a young person that counts.
What they need the most is people who can give them a safe and stable home where they are supported, encouraged and listened to.
Existing foster carers
If you are an existing foster carer who currently fosters younger children, we can help build your skills and confidence to care for teenagers.
Carers with suitable skills and experience may also be able to care for a teenager with complex needs with support from our Bristol Intensive Therapeutic Support Programme. This offers additional training and intensive support from a specialist team along with an enhanced fee.