As a foster carer looking after teenagers, you can find yourself becoming the launch pad to the rest of their lives. It's incredibly rewarding to build a trustful relationship with them and to see their personalities blossom and evolve with your nurturing guidance.
Becoming a foster carer to teenagers is a unique experience. They challenge your ideas, beliefs and strategies and can keep you on your toes, but watching them achieve their goals gives the greatest sense of pride that you could imagine.
In the UK, babies and toddlers are the children most often fostered, returned to care and who stay in care- as much as 20 per cent of admissions to foster care are infants.
This may be because they placed in care voluntarily by their main carer(s), or they may have suffered neglect or been exposed to drugs or alcohol pre-birth. They are often premature, underweight and they are more likely than other children to have serious medical problems, disabilities and developmental delays.
Foster care is a particularly important service because it goes a long way in meeting the secure attachment needs that all children have. The sooner these attachment needs are met in a young child’s life, the sooner they can begin to thrive.
Whenever it is appropriate, Affinity strives to keep sibling groups together, avoiding the distressing situation of splitting brothers and sisters who may have experienced neglect and abuse.
Sometimes older siblings may have ‘parented’ the younger ones, who may have delayed development or health issues. As a result, it’s important to maintain this companionship through what can be an emotional and difficult uprooting.
Along with providing a room for each child, fostering siblings requires extra time, enthusiasm, and energy to meet the needs of each young person. Foster carers who can accommodate siblings are always in demand.
There are many reasons for a parent and child placement but, most often a court will decide on a parent and child fostering placement if a mum is having difficulties looking after their new baby. Our specialist foster carers support one or both parents with their child, supporting their new family and helping them to learn parenting skills.
There are many reasons why a young family may find themselves in this situation but, in many cases, it may be that they haven’t experienced great parenting in their own lives or may have been through the care system. As a result, we ensure that our foster carers are experienced parental figures who can pass on their parenting skills, hopefully enabling young families to stay together.
At Affinity we also provide fostering for children with a range of specialist needs. Caring for disabled children involves providing specialist care to children who may have autism, learning difficulties, physical disabilities or medical conditions.
Ideally, people wanting to become specialist foster carers will have previous experience caring for children or adults with disabilities. However, we consider every enquiry carefully and on their own merits. Affinity only match children with needs suitable to your skills, and Affinity provides bespoke training for you to match the needs required in any placement.
Short term respite placements are an important role within fostering, whether the foster carer is providing respite care to support existing affinity carers, be it a couple of days or a few weeks. Respite care can be needed for a range of circumstances, from family emergencies through to holidays where the young person is unable to travel with them.