Fostered Teenagers – A Double Whammy Of Misunderstanding

I’m not sure what your experience of teenagers is. For those of us of a certain generation we find it difficult to shake off the image of Harry Enfield’s Kevin the teenager character and his constant refrain of ‘it’s SO unfair’. Indeed, some of us may even remember behaving like Kevin more than once!

But as the depiction of Kevin showed, teenagers have somewhat of an undeserved negative reputation. I recently read this description of teenagers: ‘A mammal found extensively throughout the planet, often clustered in groups in front of television sets. Thought to be a member of Homo Sapiens due to physical similarities, though social and emotional behaviour leads many researchers to consider teenagers to be a completely different species altogether. Very territorial.’

A double whammy of misunderstanding
Looked after children often carry a similar reputation – they’re perceived as difficult to ‘manage’, disruptive, damaged and damaging. So teenagers in care face a double whammy of misunderstanding and misconception. As Kevin would say, ‘That’s so unfair.’ It’s unfair on them and their carers and simply doesn’t reflect what I hear, in my role as chief executive at The Fostering Network, from those foster carers who look after fostered teenagers.

Across the UK 60 per cent of children in care are in their teens. That means we need more foster carers for teenagers than we do any other group of children. Our recent survey of fostering services – the organisations which recruit, train and support foster carers – shows that 97 per cent of all services identify foster carers for teenagers as a top recruitment priority.

Urgent need for more foster families
We have just released new figures showing that there is an urgent need for over 7,100 new foster families this year to ensure that fostered children and young people are placed with the best family for them at the first time of asking. A staggering 97 per cent of fostering services that responded to our survey told us that have a particular need to recruit foster…

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