Can you give a teenager in care a fresh start?
People who think they might be able to give a teenager a fresh start in life, by becoming a foster carer, are being invited to an information event next week.
Leeds City Council is on the look-out for people who have the right skills, time and space, to look after a teenager who is currently in the care of the local authority.
People from across the city who are interested in finding out more, are invited to come to a ‘foster a teenager information evening’ on Wednesday 26th February 2014 (7pm till 9pm) Waitrose Supermarket (Cafe area), Meanwood, LS6 4RJ.
The event will give people the chance to hear from foster carers what it is really like to look after a teenager in care, as well as hearing from fostering experts from Leeds City Council’s fostering team about what help, advice, support and training is on offer to potential carers.
The council is looking to recruit foster carers for young people aged 13 and over, who would be able to look after a young person beyond the usual leaving care age of 18, in order to provide an effective stepping-stone to independence.
Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Fostering a teenager can be a challenging but extremely rewarding thing to do. Adolescence can be a turbulent time for any young person, but this is often compounded for young people in care, who have often had a troubled early childhood.
This is why we need to find those amazing people who are robust, energetic, empathetic and caring and able to rise to the challenge.
“There are no particular people who make successful foster carers for teenagers. They include single people, couples, and gay and lesbian carers. Before fostering they have usually had experience of caring for teenagers, either through raising their own family, or through having contact in other ways, for example through their work.
“What is important is that they share a genuine enjoyment in working with teenagers and a commitment to promoting their welfare and helping them become independent adults.”
Over recent years there has been a move towards young people remaining in foster care after they reach 18. The recruitment of the new specialist carers will offer a stepping stone between foster care and independent living and provide young people with an opportunity to acquire skills to achieve this transition successfully.
The council has two dedicated fostering support teams and carers have access to professional training and qualifications.
By working for Leeds City Council, carers will help ensure all the available funding for fostering goes towards children and young people and that Leeds children are fostered in their home city, which at times can help them remain in their local school and community.
John and Stephanie Forbes have been fostering teenagers in Leeds for 32 years. They have recently won the Child Friendly Leeds award for looking after children and young people, and in 2009 were awarded an MBE for their services to fostering, having been nominated by people who had previously been fostered by them.
Mr and Mrs Forbes saw an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post promoting an information evening about fostering with Leeds City Council back in 1982 and they discovered how we needed foster carers for older children and teenagers. Their greatest reward is meeting with adults who they fostered while they were teenagers, and seeing them parent and care for their own children, knowing they had an influential part in that process.
They said: “Most teenagers go through a difficult time, but a looked after child, in the majority of cases, has come from a very complex situation far different from the experience of our own youngsters. Sometimes you can work with the young person’s birthparent to return the child into the care of their families, in some cases after many years of separation. This is something we have done on a number of occasions and feel a great deal of satisfaction from it.”
Interviews can be arranged with Mr and Mrs Forbes, through Leeds City Council’s press office.
Visit www.foster4leeds.co.uk or call the dedicated foster care recruitment line on: 0113 2477443 for more information.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713