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Teenagers who are trying to find their place in the world

By 12/07/2023No Comments
Fostering a teen

When people first enquire to foster, it is often assumed that younger children will be easier to manage and that teenagers will be more challenging to care for. But teenagers often become the preferred option for many foster carers who now have a special place in their hearts for this age group. There are many vulnerable teenagers in Brighton & Hove who need the unconditional love and support of a foster carer to give them the confidence and skills they need for adulthood. Could this be you?

Teenagers often come into care feeling that everyone is against them. Alongside any trauma they may have been through, hormones and a growing sense of independence mean they are going through a key and challenging stage of development. The stability and support that foster parents provide at this important stage can have a far-reaching impact and help them develop into caring, confident and independent adults.

Chris and Kieran have been fostering teenagers for almost 30 years. “The good bit is that you see them growing up, becoming independent and moving on. You get to know them and they’re old enough to really talk to. I was a secondary school teacher so I kind of know what’s going on in their heads so it’s easier to communicate. And now of course we’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Fostering a teenager can bring real challenges, but it also offers huge rewards. It takes care and consistency to let a young person know, regardless of their age, that you’re not going anywhere and you’re not giving up. When teenagers know they’re in a safe and caring place, that’s when they really start to thrive.

Martin and Liz foster teenagers and now wouldn’t have it any other way.

For Liz, it’s a familiar stage of parenting. “Our sons are in their twenties, so it doesn’t seem that long ago that they were teenagers. Having teenagers keeps you young, it’s got me back into real life!”

Martin says “Teenagers are exploring where they want to go and they’re discovering what they want to do with their life. They’re very vocal about what they want to do and they’re very interesting to talk to because they’ve got ideas that make you sit up and think!”

The magnitude of impact that foster carers can provide for young people in care is far reaching and invaluable. Family relationships are a huge benefit to teens who desperately need a support network to guide them whilst they try to work out who they are and understand what’s happened to them in the past.

Liz says “You’ve got to be very open-minded when you do face a challenge. It breaks my heart inside, but you can’t show that. And you need to be non-judgemental, that’s important. You cannot judge because you haven’t experienced the situation and can’t know what it’s like. We can only imagine.”

Like all children and young people in foster care, teens just need that family or individual who can help make the difference to their life and future prospects.

Chris and Kieran enjoy seeing the young people they’ve cared for grow up, become independent and remain part of their lives as adults.“We attended the wedding of one of our foster children… the Best Man and four ushers had also been our foster children so that was quite a day! We also have two granddaughters who we see on a regular basis.”

Birth child Lauren remembers when her mum made the decision to foster young adults between the ages of 12 and 18. “Everyone wants to foster or adopt a cute baby or young child, but not enough people think about teenagers. My mum wanted to give young adults a chance to change their lives by giving them the skills and emotional support for them to make their own success. She helped them to believe in themselves and I feel proud of her for helping them to flourish into young adults who now have a chance for a better future.”

Gemma’s life was transformed when she was fostered by a Brighton family at a desperate time. Foster carers Shelley and Nicholas took her into their family home – initially for an emergency short stay – and gave her the security and care she needed.

Gemma says: “What started as a two week respite break turned into a four year foster placement. As soon as I stepped in their front door, I immediately felt this was where I was meant to be. My foster carers gave me the safe, loving home and stability I was craving. They’ve also believed in me – and that support has helped put me on a path to a future that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible. Shelley filled a void in my life, and while you can’t replace a mum, which she’s never tried to, she gave me the unconditional love and support that a mum would, and that was all I was after.The truth is, we all just need someone to care, even if it were just one person. That one person could change your life.”

Gemma encourages anyone considering fostering to give it a try. “There may be a child or young person out there who needs you, and you could save their life.”

To foster teenagers, it can help if you have some prior experience working with young people, but it is not essential as the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team will provide all the training and support you need. There are a variety of skills and qualities that are useful such as being able to listen, having a good sense of humour and being a caring, empathic person.

Teenagers are trying to find their place in the world, and they need someone to show they care. If this is you, the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team would love to hear from you.

If you can help a teenager to find their place in the world and be the person they need, the Brighton & Hove Fostering Team would love to hear from you. Visit for more information or e-mail to find out about upcoming information sessions.