Could you be that one caring adult to change the life of a teen?
"Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story" - Josh Shipp. Life Without Barriers is looking for foster carers who can be the one caring adult to make a difference in the life of a teenager in care.
Many people interested in foster caring come with the notion of wanting to foster babies and pre-school age children, but there is so much joy and reward in providing a safe, supportive home for a teen who can't safely live at home.
It's more than caring, it's mentoring
Teenagers in foster care are searching for someone who can build a real relationship with them. They need someone who can help guide them and keep them safe as they inch closer to adulthood.
“You can have a real conversation with teenagers and do a lot of good mentoring and support,"
— Elysse, Case Manager with Life Without Barriers
"Some of the kids we’ve worked with have had their challenges, but then you just have a breakthrough and it’s awesome. Carers can be integral to helping a young person achieve their goals and improve their life, and really look forward to a future with more possibilities.”
You can teach skills to help them to thrive in adulthood
Foster Carers of teens, have the opportunity to really prepare them for adulthood, it’s a great responsibility. “If you have a teenager enter your home you have the privilege of teaching them things like how to drive, cook, manage their budget. Giving them a little bit of freedom when they are ready and supporting them to have control over some of the biggest decisions in their lives, can be really rewarding,” said Nikki, a Case Manager with Life Without Barriers.
Image: Kieren's carer significantly impacted his life when growing up in foster care
Kieren, now a young adult, spent his teenage years in foster care with Life Without Barriers. He lived with one foster care named Rob. Kieren notes the huge impact Rob had on his social and emotional development, teaching him how to deal with his anger and work through struggles or disagreements.
"My foster carer helped me to get where I am now. I went through a lot and I would have struggled harder if I didn't have someone to support me.”
— Kieren, grew up in foster care with Life Without Barriers
More independence gives more flexibility for foster carers
Teens in foster care, like all teenagers, have a lot more independence than young children. "They go to school, they often catch public transport to and from school, they play on their devices, play sport, and spend time with friends," said Nikki. "This often opens up a lot more capacity and flexibility for carers to perhaps extend working hours, take up new activities, start a new role.”
Guardianship or long term placements are an option
Ideally, all children would return to their family, however this is not always possible. What we do hope to achieve, is that all children have positive and lasting relationships with their family. Often teenagers in foster care have long term or permanent care orders. In these cases, we would be looking for families to support and care for that children throughout the remainder of their teenage years and onto adulthood.
Help to shape a young person as they enter adulthood
“Some of our carers have become so skilled at working and mentoring teenagers, that they are able to take any bumps in their stride and really enjoy seeing young people gain confidence.” said Elysse, a Case Manager with Life Without Barriers.
“We have one carer who almost only cares for teenagers who need that extra support and guidance. He cares for the teens that many may not be confident to take on. He just accepts them for who they are, and where they are in their lives, their stories.
He doesn’t try to force them to fit into a box, but gives them time to settle, feel comfortable and secure so they are able to go out and the best versions of themselves. You just have to be open minded.” *Name changed for privacy reasons
Could you be a foster carer and mentor to a young person who needs a safe, supportive and loving home? Could you be that one caring adult?
Peer Parent and Family Advocacy in Child Protection
By Jessica Cocks, Churchill Fellow 2016, New South Wales
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