Why teenagers come into care

Many teenagers unfortunately find themselves in the care system, just like Kelly – and for a wide range of different reasons. What might surprise you is that the majority of these reasons are in fact beyond that young person’s control. Unfortunately these young people are still judged, unfairly, purely on the behaviours they are displaying. Maybe they’ve been labelled as a ‘troublemaker’ very early in their life, and they have grown up to believe this. It is precisely these labels that we need to look past, to enable us to delve further into the true reasons why these young people are in care.

As we can see, 65% of children who come into care have experienced abuse or neglect – with other reasons pointing to incidents or situations beyond a young person’s control. 

The reality of fostering teenagers

No matter what the reason or cause as to why these young people are in care, fostering teenagers is not without its challenges. However we still need to bear in mind that caring for teenagers generally can be challenging; these are young people who are going through a number of physical and emotional changes.

If we go back to the reasons why a young person is in care, we can start to shed more light on what needs to be put in place to help heal the trauma that they have experienced. Abuse or neglect, possibly over a number of years, can have a devastating and lasting effect on a young person. However, care strategies and approaches would be centred around making sure that the young person feels cared for, and – most importantly – that a carer or guardian will always be there for them. Being abandoned can even lead young people to ‘test’ their current care arrangements, whether that be in residential care or a foster home, by pushing their behaviour to see if they are rejected once more. After all, the last thing they will want to do is put their trust in a carer if everyone else has rejected them throughout their early life.

“65% of children who come into care have experienced abuse or neglect – with other reasons pointing to incidents or situations beyond a young person’s control.”

It can take time to unpick some of the trauma that these young people have experienced, but some of the outcomes that have been achieved due to putting the right strategies in place are breathtaking.

Changing the lives of young people

Whilst Kelly’s journey has been very turbulent and traumatic, many great outcomes have been achieved for young people in the real world.

Rebecca and Gareth have been TACT foster carers since 2014. They said: “What I love most about fostering is seeing the progress in the children we care for. The change we have witnessed in the 17-year-old boy who has been with us for two years has been such a pleasure to watch.

“He was missing time at school and wasn’t really interested in education. However, with time he began to trust us, and now he lets us know every time he goes out, calls us when he is running late, and talks about his friends with us. He is really engaging with college as well. During parents evening his tutor said he couldn’t believe the change in him.”

By establishing trust and by giving this young person a secure base, Rebecca and Gareth have enabled this young person to want to communicate with adults, and to engage with education once more.

Could you foster teenagers?

At TACT, we provide all our foster carers with exceptional training to prepare them for fostering older children. We are a charity, so reinvesting surplus income back into providing more training and support for our fostering households helps further ensure that any young person is given the care and the help they need to rebuild their lives, and ultimately prepare them for independence.

Could you turn a teenager’s life around? If you are interested in finding out more about fostering teenagers, you can complete the enquiry form on this page.