People who want to make a real difference to the lives of young people in Swansea are being urged to consider fostering.
Foster Swansea, the council’s fostering service, needs more people who can provide loving and secure homes, particularly for older children and teenagers.
At the end of last year 44% of children placed with Foster Swansea foster carers were aged 11-17 years and with Covid-19 continuing to impact on families in many different ways the need for safe and loving homes is not going to go away any time soon.
Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Elliott King, said: “When thinking about fostering most people are initially more interested in fostering younger children.
“This is down to there being an incorrect stigma attached to teenagers in foster care. It is widely but wrongly believed that that older children or teenagers are more of a challenge to parent than younger children and they are wrongly labelled as being difficult or troublesome.
“However, that’s not the case. It’s simply a different experience rather than a more challenging one. They are just teenagers that require the safety and security of a loving foster family and in reality, fostering teenagers might actually be easier.
“Older children and teenagers are likely to be more independent and less physically demanding than looking after younger, more dependent children and young people.
“Older children, especially teenagers, are also more aware of impending adulthood. They can often feel uncertain and afraid of the unknown. This reinforces the need for them to have stability, consistency, love and support. They need a caring home that will provide shelter from the reasons why they are no longer living with their own families and support to give them the chance of a brighter future.”
Julia Doherty, a Foster Swansea foster carer for 18 years, has supported over 70 children and young people.
She said: “I have had great pleasure in the latter years of supporting and nurturing teenagers. To see them develop into young adults has been so rewarding. We all need that person who is willing to support us through what can be very challenging teen years, this is especially difficult for those who are not with their own families.
“To give these young people the chance to develop and grow is so important and to accept them for who they are.
“I wish more people would come forward to become foster carers for teenagers, they have as much need for our love and support as younger children.
“Knowing that you’ve helped care and support a teenager through difficult times and see them come out the other side is better than gold.”
The work of Foster carers is greatly appreciated by many of the young people they look after.
One young person in foster care said: “It’s important for us teenagers to have positive role models so we can follow in the right foot steps. To be shown and taught right from wrong is so important because we’ve seen lots of bad but we never realised it was bad until we met our foster carers. They show us what life and what family is all about. Having positive role models helps us build our future plans and allows us to think of goals that are the right ones”
“More foster carers should come forward to foster teenagers because we need the same amount of love and support as any other child. We want to feel like we’re understood and that were cared for.
“Before coming to my foster carer I was so lost but now I’m making plans for my future, making goals and achieving them.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering is being invited to attend a virtual information event being organised by Foster Swansea.
On Wednesday 20 January the team will be staging two online events via Microsoft Teams, 1-2pm and 6-7pm.
There will be the opportunity to hear further information, meet staff and most importantly, meet some foster carers that look after the county’s children and young people.
Cllr King added: “For some, becoming a foster carer might just be a new career path worth considering, as a well-paid and incredibly rewarding role, it also includes outstanding training and support from qualified and experienced workers. This could be especially prevalent to those caring individuals who are facing job uncertainty, are rethinking about how to spend their time or the type of work they want to do.”
Foster Swansea is looking for applicants from all walks of life including single people, couples, LGBTQ+ and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Increased representation across all communities is needed to meet the diverse needs of those children and young people needing foster care.
Whilst it is helpful for applicants to have had some experience of parenting or looking after children and young people, a desire to help, be available, provide a place of safety and commit to caring and supporting them for as long as they need, are also important factors.
Anyone interested in attending one of the sessions should register in advance. To book onto the event, please email email@example.com providing a contact name and email address. Alternatively, phone (01792) 636103 and provide this information. You will then be sent a link to the event. People need to register their interest no later than Monday 18 January.
If you are interested in knowing more about this rewarding career, contact Foster Swansea on 0300 555 0111 or visit www.fosterswansea.org.
(Lead image: freestocks.org / Pexels.com)