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West Leeds: Can you become a foster carer?

Leeds City Council is on the look-out for people who have the right skills, time and space, to make a real difference to children and young people in Leeds, writes Emma Simmonds.

The council is looking to recruit a variety of foster carers, specifically for young people aged 11 and over, large sibling groups and children with complex needs.

Could you foster a teenager?

Fostering a teenager can be a challenging but extremely rewarding thing to do. Many people can make successful foster carers for teenagers, including single people, couples, and gay and lesbian carers. What is important is that they share a genuine enjoyment in working with teenagers and a commitment to promoting their welfare and helping them become independent adults.

Leeds City Council is the second largest local authority in England, we arrange care and support for around 1,250 children and young people who have been separated from their birth families. Some of our children and young people will have experienced significant neglect or abuse. They need love, safety, security and stable homes where they can stay for a few days, weeks, months, years or longer as part of a family.

We don’t have enough local authority foster carers to meet the needs of all these children, so we really need to hear from you if you might be able to provide a home or a place to stay for a child, whether that be through short or long-term fostering.

Fostering can be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding, as people who’ve already done it say…

“We were afraid at first”

Andy lives in West Leeds. At the moment he is providing long term foster care to a young person aged 17.

“We were afraid at first. Don’t be afraid. Give them a chance.” They’ve come from backgrounds where there has been a lot of neglect and they just don’t trust nobody.” says Andy.

“My personality is I won’t give in on anything. To me I see it as a challenge – small victories all the way. The reward is what you see now.”

Andy knew he had the patience, commitment, a non-judgemental approach and support to care for children and families who needed it at times of trouble and difficulty.

“There’s this stigma with teenagers that people don’t want to take teenagers because they are all trouble. They are NOT all trouble. You need to get to know the personalities. You need to give them a chance.

“You need to have a lot of resilience, a lot of patience, give them the time they need and eventually you will build that relationship up.”

Andy found that using foster carer support groups proved a valuable resource and good networking tool. He attends monthly support groups for foster carers, an all schemes support group aimed at all types of carers, training and development courses when places are available. He also has regular contact with their Fostering Support Worker and Therapeutic Support Team.

“Give them time to settle in. Listen to them. But be consistent at the same time. Don’t be afraid of it. Teenagers close down really, really quickly. It’s a case of getting to understand them and open up and making them feel wanted.”

Andy makes sure that any of his foster children know they always have a home with him even when they are all grown up.

“I really believe we are making a difference. I’ve got living proof that we make to a teenager’s life.”

By working for Leeds City Council, carers will help ensure all the available funding for fostering goes towards children and young people and that Leeds children are fostered in their home city, which at times can help them remain in their local school and community.

If you would like to know more on becoming a foster carer, come to our drop-in information event at Leeds North Village Hotel on Tuesday 24th May from 6-8:30pm.

Would you like to know more?

Contact Leeds Fostering Department on:

Email: ss.fostering.and.adoption@leeds.gov.uk (please include your phone number)

Website: www.foster4leeds.co.uk.

 



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