Stability index highlights need for more foster carers for teenagers

Author: PCF

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The Children’s Commissioner’s for England 2019 Stability Index has reported a marked rise in the number of older children entering a care system that is not equipped to cope, resulting in young people having to endure multiple moves of home each year. These findings show what TACT has long known and campaigned about – the major lack of foster carers available to provide the thousands of vulnerable teenagers with loving, stable and supportive homes.

TACT is fortunate to have many amazing people who open their hearts and homes to foster young people in care, including Rosemary. Here is her story:

 

“I love making young people believe in themselves.”

Rosemary – TACT Foster Carer since 2012
Yorkshire

I first met a foster carer over 50 years ago when i was a student doing work experience at the local baby and children clinic. She cared for babies and small children with a short life expectancy and i thought she was an exceptional person. That is when the idea first planted itself in my mind and I thought I might come back to it in the future. Then approximately 13 years ago I spotted a foster carer recruitment poster which said that all you need is to be a good listener, which gave me the nudge i finally apply to become a foster carer.

After eight years of fostering through my local authority, I decided I wanted to foster children and young people with special needs. I wasn’t afraid of the challenge and I felt equipped and able to care for these children as I have a lot of experience with my own middle child who has learning difficulties and poor physical ability. However, my local authority wouldn’t let me do so because I was a single carer. Therefore, five years ago, I decided to foster with TACT. When I told them that I preferred caring for teenagers with learning disabilities, they couldn’t get my application started fast enough, as there is a serous need for foster carers for both of these groups of children. They trusted me with challenging placements and supported me all the way.

Altogether I have cared for approximately 30-40 children, all of whom were teenagers and several had special needs. There have been many rewards over the years, some big ones, some small but nevertheless significant. My biggest fostering success so far is probably a 16-year-old girl I currently care for. She was a shy little kid when she first came to me over three years ago but now she has lots of confidence and she participates in as many activities as she can. She is a member of York’s Children in Care Council Show Me That I Matter, and TACT’s Children’s Champions group which brings young people from all the TACT regional offices across the UK together to seek their views on issues relating to being in care and feedback on how the charity runs its services.

I believe it was knowing that she was secure that made a difference to her. Making children and young people believe in themselves is what I enjoy most about fostering. Bringing up my own children was wonderful but fostering makes me feel fulfilled in a completely different way.

She plans to live with me until she goes to university in two years and I believe she won’t have a problem getting in. I am pleased that she is staying with me until then as we have a lovely relationship. Of course, she did the whole testing of the boundaries thing at the beginning, but having raised three children of my own and lots of foster children, it wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. I must say I am very seldom surprised, my resilience has certainly got better over the years of fostering. I learnt that even though there may be some bumps on the road, everything somehow turns out just fine in the end It helps to know that I have a great support from TACT and there is always someone to talk to if I need it.