Our foster carers are sharing their positive experiences and are urging likeminded residents with a loving and stable home to consider fostering local children, in particular teenagers.
Foster carers play a vital role in providing vulnerable children and young people with guidance, stability and love and as a service we’re passionate about keeping children and young people who cannot live with their birth parents close to familiar surroundings to help maintain some continuity in their lives.
There is a misconception or stigma that fostering teenagers will be more challenging, but for many Southend foster carers, teenagers have become the preferred age group.
Southend foster carer, Una, 55, has been fostering children and young people for two years, and is currently caring for a 14-year-old and a 4-year-old. Una explained how she has helped one of the children she is caring for deal with pent up emotions.
Una explained: “When my teenager first came to me aged 12, they were very cheeky and angry; always trying to push buttons and see if I would break, but I never did. Their anger wasn’t directed at me, and by providing them with a boxing ball and gloves I found a way to let them express their emotions. They actually thanked me for allowing them to lash out without involving anything or anyone else.”
As we know, teenagers go through so many changes both physical and emotional as they become more aware of the world and their place within it. They begin to question, rebel and strive for independence. Our foster carers play a vital role in helping them deal with these changes and prepare them for independence and adulthood.
Southend fostering couple, Sarah, 39, and Peter, 40, have been fostering teenagers for four years. They strongly believe in the importance of conversation and are currently caring for one teenager and one young adult.
Peter said: “Being understanding is always best; it means that our young people will always come to us with any problems they have, because they know they won’t be judged. We listen and advise the best way we know how, and they realise a lot of issues can be resolved by talking them through.”
We want to ensure that young people have the tools they need to thrive as they become more independent. Our foster carers are a key part of their development from gaining confidence, to supporting them to make decisions relating to their education and their future career choices.
Sarah said: “It’s great to be part of their journey to young adulthood, helping them as they grow, and it’s always a proud moment when they achieve their goals. It’s an especially touching moment when they say that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without our support. Those moments alone make it all worthwhile.”
Peter added: “There is something special about fostering teenagers, it’s a time in their life where you really start to see the individual flourish as they start their journey towards adulthood. It’s also a time when they start to make important choices about their education.”
Una added: “When my teenager came to me, they lacked so much confidence and hated themselves. I made it my duty to make sure that they would start to see in themselves, what I could see in them. I can see that my constant praise and celebration of their achievements has worked and slowly given them a lot more confidence and a sense of pride in their appearance. While they may joke about my constant positivity, I know it is having an impact on them in a positive way, and that is what I will continue to do, until they never stop believing how wonderful they are.”
In Southend, we urgently need new foster carers to help change the lives of children and young adults and keep them close to familiar surroundings.
If you can provide a stable and loving home, we want to hear from you. If you need more information, then why not come along to one of our fostering information events. With talks from our amazing Foster Carers and Recruitment Team you’ll get a real insight into fostering and learn more about the support and training you receive.
Meet the Team at our Fostering Information Events
Join us online on Tuesday 8 November from 6.30pm-8pm or you can meet us in person on Monday 28 November from 10am to midday at The Tickfield Centre in Southend.