We’re all different, that’s what makes us special. Even identical twins have different personalities and interests. If you speak to any group of teachers or people who work with children and young people, they will also tell you that we all develop at different rates. As an example, some children start talking before they’re one, others wait a while until they are toddlers. While milestones are a good way to track progress, they are just that, markers to guide you on your way.
We understand why 0-5 year olds are the most sought after children for adoption and foster care, they provide an opportunity to see them hit key milestones; first words, first steps, the first day at school, they are the photo ready moments that portray a level of care and nurturing. However, sharing your home with teens and pre-teens can result in the most amazing nurturing and growth experience.
There seems to be a common misconception that teenagers are difficult, that they are hard to live with and cause disruption. Although, if you’ve ever shared a household with a cold filled 3 year old who is having difficulty sleeping, you may disagree, but it’s also important to remember that providing a safe home for a teen or pre-teen will provide a whole set of different milestones.
Children and young people who find themselves in the care system could arrive with some developmental delays. No child or young person finds themselves in foster care for happy or positive reasons and the majority have lived with some form of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, which undoubtedly affects development. The role of a foster carer is to help the children or young people in their care achieve their full potential.
Just providing a stable and safe home can help with mental and social development. Knowing that there is a safe place to sleep, a room of their own and people around them who will listen to them can make the world of difference. Seeing a teenager finally emerge from their room and have a chat is as rewarding as seeing first steps. Watching them learn how to control their emotions and language can give the same emotions as hearing a first word (although we can’t guarantee that there won’t still be swear words in a teenager’s outbursts).
Affinity Fostering prefer to focus on the individual needs of the children and young people in our care. Matching them to foster carers who can help them grow and develop into healthy individuals is far more important than assigning particular age groups to our foster carers. After all, it’s all about finding the right place for the children and young people we look after to call home.
If you have a spare room that needs a little bit of life in it and would like to help a child or young person develop and thrive, we’d love to hear from you.