Considering fostering a teenager?
In the UK, teenagers sadly get overlooked in favour of younger children, due to the perception that a teenage foster child will be more difficult to manage. This means they’re left without the nurture and support of a loving foster parent during a critical time in their lives. A lot of change happens during adolescence, which can be confusing and stressful at the best of times. But teenagers in foster care are also likely to have the added weight of a traumatic past, with neglect and abuse being common reasons children are placed into care. They’re seeking stability, direction and understanding, which is why we urgently need more foster carers to open up their hearts and homes.
By fostering teenagers, you can help young people heal from their pasts, cope with newfound pressures and make those all-important steps towards a bright, positive future.
Why you should give teenagers a chance
When you become a foster carer and take on a teenage foster child, it can be transformative for both your life and theirs. While it might initially sound like a lot of hard work, fostering teenagers tends to be less demanding than caring for little ones. You don’t need to physically supervise them all the time like you would a young child, and being at school full-time with meaningful friendships gives them an increased sense of independence. This means your energy can be focused on helping them overcome their hardships, steering them in the right direction and using your life experience to prepare them for adulthood.
Young people in care often feel lost, lack self-confidence and have trouble navigating the changes that happen during puberty. There are also exams, the prospect of finishing their education and deciding what to do next. It’s a potentially very overwhelming time.
Foster parents provide much needed stability to make their young person feel safe and secure, but they do more than that. It's also about teaching them life skills and giving them the best chance to grow into confident and successful adults.
The key responsibilities of foster carers to teenagers include:
- Encouraging them to develop important life-skills so they feel empowered and independent.
- Ensuring they’re attending and getting the most out of school.
- Helping them work through typical teenage angst, including managing their emotions and feelings.
- Maintaining contact with their birth family if it’s appropriate.
7 reasons to foster a teenager
Fostering teenagers is highly rewarding and often a lot of fun! Of course, every child is different, and their unique set of circumstances can influence their behaviour and trauma responses. However, their age, maturity and increased sense of independence can make caring for this vulnerable age group easier and more fulfilling.
1. Fewer physical demands
A young foster child requires more physical demands, such as feeding, bathing, and nappy changing. Teenagers, on the other hand, are typically able to care for their own basic needs.
2. More independence
Teenagers will more than likely be in full-time education, have extracurricular activities and spend a lot of time with their friends, making them more independent than a young child.
Teenagers are able to communicate their needs, wants, and feelings more clearly than younger children, which can make it easier to provide appropriate care. It also means you get to laugh with them, discover more about their personality and have deeper conversations. If you’re fostering as a single person, teenagers can be more appealing for this reason alone.
4. Understanding of boundaries
Due to their newfound appreciation for privacy, teens can have a better understanding of boundaries and may be more respectful of personal space and belongings.
5. More consistent routine
A teenage foster child may have a more consistent routine in terms of school, hobbies and social life, which can make it easier to plan for and meet their needs. Also, having an existing passion, such as sport, music or art, means foster carers can immediately start
6. Be a role model
Foster parents can act as role models for teenagers, helping them learn essential life skills such as budgeting, cooking, managing relationships and practicing self-care. All of this can help young people become well-rounded, independent adults.
7. Break the cycle
Fostering a UK teenager can provide an opportunity to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty or trauma by offering them a stable and supportive environment to grow in. So many of our teenagers flourish in their foster homes and achieve things they didn’t believe they could, such as going on to university or even becoming a foster parent themselves. It’s so wonderful to play a direct role in making that happen.
The requirements for fostering a UK teenager
At FCA, it’s your personal qualities that count. We’re proud to have foster parents from all walks of life, with different cultures, religions, upbringings and sexual orientations. As long as you have the basic legal requirements and are passionate about changing lives, we’d love to talk to you about fostering.
- You’re aged 21 or over (there’s no upper age limit)
- You have a spare bedroom a teenage foster child can always call their own
- You have the legal right to live and work in the UK
- You have the time and emotional availability to care for a child (it’s also possible to work and foster in some instances)
- You have plenty of patience, energy, resilience and commitment
What doesn’t matter
- If you’re married or single
- Your sexual orientation, race, gender, ethnicity or disability status
- If you have no experience in childcare (we give you all the support and training you’ll need to take on a teenage foster placement)
- Whether you own your house or rent it
Fostering a teenager FAQs
Who can foster a teen?
Anyone, as long as you meet the basic legal requirements and have the patience, empathy and compassion to care for a young person. There’s no upper age limit, and everybody was a teenager once in their lives! It does help if you have some experience of dealing with teenagers, whether that’s personally or professionally, but we’ll give you all the training you need as well as 24/7 support, so you never feel alone.
Am I able to foster if I am working?
It’s possible to work and foster, and many of our foster parents do, but it does depend on your individual circumstances. Fostering a teenager takes time, energy and effort, and you’ll need to be available for all their important appointments, facilitate contact and meet regularly with your supervising social worker. It’s important that your employers are supportive of your wish to foster a child too.
How much will I get paid for fostering a teen?
We know how much hard work goes into caring for a young person, so we offer our foster parents a generous allowance to reflect this. It covers the cost of looking after a teenager but also recognises the skill, professionalism and expertise of our foster parents. The exact amount depends on various factors, but on average, you could be earning approximately £435 per child, per week, as well as £250 bonuses in summer and winter and up to 14 nights paid respite.
Will I get paid if I have no placements?
You would only receive a fostering allowance for an active teenage foster placement, but our team works tirelessly to match children with the right families. Being one of the largest and most reputable agencies means we are a trusted partner for local authorities throughout the UK. Our services are in high demand across the country, which means once you become an approved foster family with us, it won’t be long before you’ll have a teenager in your care as and when you are ready for them
How long does it take to become an approved foster parent?
You’ll complete six stages in your journey to becoming a foster parent, and depending on your circumstances, the process can take between four and six months. We think it’s crucial that you’re given all the information you need, know exactly what to expect and understand what fostering means for your family.
Will my spouse/partner also need to be assessed?
Yes, this is because you’ll essentially become a foster family together. You would be the primary foster parent, and your spouse or partner would be the secondary foster parent. If you have children of your own, it’s incredibly important they are on board with the decision to foster too.
At FCA, we ensure support is provided for the whole family, and that includes your birth children. Our culture of participation means everyone can get involved in the activities, days out, and support groups provided.
Will I have to allow the child's parents to visit them in my home?
Maintaining contact with your teenage foster child’s birth family will be a key responsibility, however it would not be expected to take place at your home. The conditions of contact are normally agreed before a child is placed with you, including the type, frequency time and location.
What training will I receive?
At FCA, we have exceptional training programmes and invest a lot of time and energy into our foster parents’ professional development. You’ll receive pre-approval training during your assessment, and then once you’re approved, you’ll undertake mandatory training, which includes safeguarding, first aid and managing challenging behaviour.
We also have a wide variety of training courses that we actively encourage our foster parents to attend throughout their fostering career, such as working with disabilities, parent and child fostering, therapeutic fostering and how to support asylum seeking children.
Benefits of working with FCA
24/7 advice service
Excellent ongoing training
Access to your local fostering team
Local support groups
Local social activities and events