What is fostering older children and teens?
It is not just younger kids that need foster care, most children in care are from the ages ten years old and up. Fostering older children and teens is providing a safe and nurturing home for young people in care. Becoming a carer to a teenager is a rewarding way to give back to your community. Fostering older children and teens often includes developing, guiding and mentoring them into adulthood in a safe space.
"[My carers] understood what I'd been through. They didn't give me a lot of 'I feel sorry for you' kind of thing, but when I made mistakes, they knew where I came from so they gave me a little bit of extra rope."
Kieren entered foster care when he was 12 years old. Thanks to the support of his carer, Kieren has a bright and happy future.
Could you be a carer?
Your questions, answered.
Why is it important to foster older children and teenagers?
Older children in care need a safe and nurturing home to grow in. Caring for older children can have a huge impact on their development and how they make sense of their complex feelings. Older children in care need that one adult of family who can be their champion. This gives children and young people a sense of stability, a place to heal, and a space to reach their full potential as an adult.
For some older foster kids, needing to leave their family home means dealing with complex emotions and trauma. Children and young people deal with trauma in very different ways, but they still have the same hopes and dreams for their futures as children who are not in care.
What are the typical ages?
Most children in care are between the ages of 10 and 17.
What is the duration of care?
Fostering older children can range from respite or short break care for one weekend a month, or short-term care to long-term foster care. For older teens in long-term care, fostering can be at least 12 months. Many of our foster carers will continue to provide care until a young person reaches 18, 21, and beyond.
Do I need special skills to foster older children?
The short answer is no. However, people who have valuable life experience, who understand that all children do well with the right help, care and support are who we look for!
Teenagers are often easier to care for than younger foster kids, as they are generally more independent. This enables many foster carers the flexibility to continue working, as the young people can usually travel to and from school, and into the community.
What kind of support will I get if I become a foster carer for older children?
Our foster carers are never alone in their caring journey. We know that providing great support is important for a successful foster placement. We provide training and support to help our foster families feel confident and well-equipped in their placement. It can be difficult to comprehend the experiences children and young people bring with them, so it is important that carers feel supported and confident in their role.
We provide carers with a range of learning opportunities suited to their level of experience and the needs of children in their care.
24/7 Carer Support
Our carers have access to support at any time of the day or night for advice, support and direction in stressful situations.
Carers receive a tax-free allowance to support the needs of children placed in their care.
Our specialist staff work with children and alongside carers where additional support is needed.
For a night or a weekend, children in care may spend time with a respite carer, an opportunity to strengthen social and family networks while their carer takes a short break. This type of care is only offered when it is in children's interests.
Talking to other carers is sometimes the best form of support. Through regular carer events we create opportunities for carers to share their concerns, celebrate successes and provide feedback to the Life Without Barriers team.
Got more questions?
Our friendly and helpful fostering specialists are ready to answer your questions. Whether you're looking to start the process, get some answers or want more information, our team is waiting for you to connect.