Preparing For Your Foster Child's Leaving

Fostering Teenagers: How To Prepare Older Children For Leaving Their Fostering Homes

Fostering teenagers will expose you to challenges and joy in just about equal measure. In our teenage years we are dealing with hormonal changes, academic decisions and physical and neurological development into adulthood. These factors alone are all encompassing, but when combined with a troubling past, they can feel very daunting. 

A teenager has entered foster care because they needed to leave the home they were in and find safety and stability somewhere else. With you. However, due to the nature of fostering, this may not always be forever. Whether a teenager in your care returns to their birth family, or whether they are old enough and ready to live independently, a time will come where they need to leave your home and commence their early adolescent lives. 

By providing support, continuity and stability for teens and young people, you will have the opportunity to change their lives. You will help them learn skills for independence, how to build trusting relationships and prepare them for a better future. Throughout the rest of this blog we will determine just how to prepare a teenager for this independence.

What Does Fostering Teenagers Involve?

Unfortunately, in the UK, fostering teenagers is often overlooked in favour of fostering younger children. This can be due to the misconception that younger children are easier to ‘manage’. Ultimately, this will leave those teenagers, who are already vulnerable and scared, feeling even  more outcast by society, and undervalued. 

Adolescence brings a whirlwind of change, often fraught with confusion and stress even under normal circumstances. For teenagers in foster care, this tumultuous time is compounded by the burdens of their troubled histories, where neglect and abuse are unfortunately all too common. 

Teenagers looking for fostering can range anywhere from 11-18. These young individuals crave stability, guidance, and empathy more than anything. This highlights the pressing need for more individuals to become foster carers, offering their compassion and providing a nurturing environment for these vulnerable youth.

As a counter argument, caring for a teenager can often be easier than caring for younger children, as they are usually in full-time education, more independent and are able to take care of themselves on a more practical level.

Does A Foster Teenager Have to Move Out at 18?

When fostering a teenager, the requirement for them to move out at 18 can vary based on the regulations of the foster care system in your area and the specific arrangements made in tandem with the local authority. In many places, there are programs in place, such as When I’m Ready (Wales) or Staying Put (England), that allow young adults to remain in their foster homes beyond 18 to continue receiving support while transitioning to independence. It’s essential to check with your local foster care agency to understand the specific policies and support systems available for fostered teenagers as they reach adulthood.

Fostering Teenagers: Steps for Transition to Independence

Supporting foster teenagers as they transition to independence is a crucial aspect of foster care, aimed at equipping them with the skills and confidence needed for a successful adult life. This involves a comprehensive approach that combines emotional support, practical life skills training, and guidance in educational and career planning. By fostering a nurturing environment that promotes growth and resilience, caregivers can significantly impact the futures of these young individuals.

Key steps include:

  • Personalised Support: Tailoring guidance to meet the unique needs and aspirations of each teenager.
  • Life Skills Training: Teaching essential skills such as budgeting, cooking, and time management.
  • Educational Encouragement: Supporting academic pursuits and exploring alternative education paths like vocational training.
  • Emotional Stability: Providing consistent emotional support and access to mental health resources.
  • Career Guidance: Helping with job searches, resume building, and interview preparation.
  • Legal and Civic Awareness: Educating about rights, responsibilities, and civic engagement.
  • Community Connections: Facilitating connections with supportive networks and mentors within the community.

Saying ‘Goodbye’ when Fostering Teenagers 

Numerous factors can lead to the conclusion of a foster placement. For instance, a child might reunite with their biological family, or it could be time for older teenagers to venture into independent living. In the case of fostering teenagers, foster carers often play a pivotal role in readying them for this new phase, imparting essential life skills like budgeting, cooking, and managing laundry tasks.

There is no right or wrong way to say goodbye. Many times, their fostered teenager will like to keep a relationship established, as a normal teenager would. This is encouraged and we will be on hand to support throughout this transition. 

Requirements for Fostering a Teenager in the UK 

We take pride in our diverse community of foster parents, embracing various backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and identities. Becoming a foster parent is easy, if you meet the essential legal criteria and are committed to making a positive impact, we’re eager to discuss the possibilities of fostering with you.

What Matters Most:

  • Over 21, no max age
  • Spare bedroom for a teen
  • Legal UK residency and work status
  • Time and emotional readiness
  • Patience, energy, resilience, commitment

If you would like to chat to a foster care agency who will be there to support you through each stage of your fostering journey, you can get in touch with us today by visiting our contact us page.

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