A Northamptonshire foster carer is asking people to consider whether they have the skills required to care for a teenager.
Northamptonshire County Council is always looking to recruit more foster carers and there is a particular need for people who can offer a home to an older child in the 11 to 15 age range.
Latest figures show that 216 of the 539 children currently in foster care in Northamptonshire are teenagers.
Colin Clement and his wife Jackie have been foster carers for Northamptonshire County Council for 12 years and have fostered a number of teenagers.
Colin, who is chairman of the Northamptonshire Foster Carers Association, said: “Family life for us as foster carers of young people is chaotic, challenging and rewarding on a daily basis. It’s never boring as there is always something new to learn.
“Teenagers are already adults in the making, so our role is to help them make the right choices for themselves. Watching teenagers grow, develop and express their own opinions is incredibly rewarding, as is seeing them reach educational and emotional milestones and gain independence.
“To be a foster carer for a teenager, you need to be able to accept the challenging times along with the rewards, but if you think you can improve the life chances of a young person I would encourage you to give it some thought.”
People who apply to become a foster carer will receive full training and support from a designated social worker, as well as financial support through a weekly allowance.
Alex Hopkins, county council director of children, families and education, said: “The teenage years can be a difficult time in any young person’s life and particularly for teenagers in care. We’re looking for people to come forward to offer a loving, stable home to these young people when they need it the most.
“Our foster carers who already look after teenagers say there are great rewards in caring for an older child or teenager because you can offer vital support and guidance to help them develop confidence and self-esteem and make plans for the future.
“It can be incredibly challenging – but our carers say the rewards of seeing the young person grow and fulfil their potential make it all worthwhile.”
To become a short or long-term foster carer, people must:
Have space and time in their life to care for a child
Have a spare bedroom
Be able to work as part of a team
Be physically and mentally fit
Have patience, flexibility, time and energy
For information about becoming a foster carer with Northamptonshire County Council is available by calling 0300 126 1009 or by visiting www.fosterme.co.uk.