A guide to fostering teenagers


In 2022, the Government reported there were 82,170 children looked after in the UK. Out of this, 25% were over the age of 16, and 39% were aged between the age of 10-15 years old. This means most children and young people in care are teenagers. Often, potential foster carers can be intimidated by the thought of fostering teenagers, however, fostering teenagers can be extremely rewarding. In this guide, we’ll explain the benefits of fostering teenagers and our top tips for supporting teenagers in foster care.

Why foster teenagers?

Fostering teenagers can be incredibly rewarding as you prepare your foster child for leaving care, and with most children in foster care over the age of ten, there is a huge demand for foster carers who want to take care of teenagers. There are many benefits of fostering teenagers including:

  • Providing mentorship and support: Providing mentorship and support gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as a positive role model in your foster child’s life at a time when it is at the most valuable.
  • Build lasting relationships: Teenagers are at a stage of their lives where they begin to form deeper relationships, if you think back to your teenage years, this is often the time where you cement life-long friendships. Fostering a teenager can result in a lasting bond.
  • Teenagers can be more independent: While there may be exceptions, teenagers are often more independent than younger children, they can contribute to basic home tasks like cooking, they can take care of their own hygiene needs and can usually travel to and from school unsupervised. Making fostering teenagers a good choice for foster carers who want to continue to work while they foster.

Without good role models and a stable and loving home teenagers in the care system are vulnerable to leaving the care system without the tools they need for adulthood. This could make them more susceptible to poor mental health, drug and alcohol abuse or homelessness after they leave care.

How to support teenagers in foster care

 The number one consideration when fostering a teen is caring for them in a thoughtful and compassionate manner. Teenagers in foster care may have experienced a challenging start to life and they need understanding and stability in their lives to prepare them for leaving care and for adulthood.

Provide a safe and supportive environment

Providing a safe and supportive environment is essential to teenagers in foster care. Some of the methods of achieving this include:

  • Open communication: Open and transparent communication helps to establish trust and mutual respect. Supporting your foster child by listening to their thoughts, feelings and concerns can help them feel comfortable expressing themselves.
  • Consistency: Maintaining a level of consistency can help your foster child feel safe and supported. Whether this is in your approach to discipline or routine, consistency will help develop a sense of safety and predictability for your foster child.
  • Respect boundaries: Respect your foster child’s personal boundaries by allowing them space when they need it.

Be an empathetic and understanding role model

Showing empathy and understanding demonstrates a level of respect for your foster child, as well as providing them with an example of how to develop healthy relationships with people. Some of the main ways you can be an empathetic and understanding role model for your foster child include:

  • Demonstrating patience: Teenagers in foster care may have had a difficult or traumatic upbringing. Demonstrating respect and kindness can help your foster child develop healthy coping mechanisms and problem solving skills.
  • Encouraging independence: Supporting your foster child’s independence will help prepare them for leaving care. Provide opportunities for them to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions while offering guidance and support.

Advocate for your foster child's needs

It’s important to show your support for your foster child to ensure they have the best start in adulthood as possible. This can include:

  • Educational support: Stay involved in your foster child’s educational needs, to ensure they have access to the necessary resources and support they need to succeed academically.
  • Therapeutic services: Unique to Excel fostering, we offer Therapeutic fostering training known as MATTs (Multi-Disciplinary Treatment and Therapy Service). While Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have traditionally been the main option for young people to access mental health services, there are limitations including long wait times and limited resources. MATTs address these issues by offering more inclusive and easier-to-access mental health care while working with the local authority to identify the level of support needed and the type of therapeutic intervention required.

Types of Fostering Teenagers

There are a number of different types of fostering depending on the needs of the teenager you are fostering. This can include long or short term fostering and emergency fostering.

Another type of fostering that can involve teenagers is parent and child fostering, when a young mother or pregnant teenager who is vulnerable comes to live with you for a short period of time in order to learn the skills needed to meet their own child’s needs. This type of foster care is especially important for young parents who might not have a stable support network and need extra support in learning how to provide care for their own child.

Supporting the care leaver process

It’s not usually common for a foster child to leave care until they are around 18 years old. But, when they reach their teens, it’s good to start the conversation about what happens when they leave care, to make sure they enter adulthood with all the tools they need to be set up for success.

It’s important to ensure that care leavers don’t feel like they are being left on their own when preparing to leave care, as well as making sure they’re aware of all the support available to them as a care leaver.

Capstone Care Leavers Trust

 The Capstone Care Leavers Trust (CCLT) provides grants to young people aged 17-25 who have been in Local Authority Care and are in need. This includes financial support including study grants, educational support, driving lessons and money for household goods to help your teenager transition to independent living.

Staying Put  

Since May 2014, young people in England have the right to stay with their foster families when they reach 18, if both you and your foster child agree. It is designed to support care leavers who may benefit from extending their stay with their foster family.

If you’re interested in fostering teenagers, or looking to learn more about the fostering process get in touch with a member of our helpful team here at Excel Fostering today.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
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15th September, 2023

Fill your Nest with the Love of Children.

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