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Fostering teenagers is hard work, but it’s also great fun – that’s the message coming from Fostering North Yorkshire (FNY) as it launches a winter appeal for people who might have what it takes to become a foster carer and change a young person’s life.

At any one time, FNY looks after up to 340 children across the county in need of foster care. Many of these are teenagers and there can be a number of reasons they can’t stay with their birth families. These include drug and alcohol misuse by their parents; domestic violence; physical and sexual abuse; mental ill health of one or both parents, or their inability to provide a safe, secure and loving home. In short, problems not of the young person’s making.

“We all know that the teenage years can be difficult – some of us might remember feeling insecure and misunderstood, to say the least,” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services.

“But for young people who have gone through a particularly distressing experience, it can be a very unsettling time. They are at a critical stage in their lives and without the right kind of guidance and support there is a risk they might get involved in activities that could have a negative effect on their future. They may also have difficulty in building positive relationships, leading to low self-esteem, and often experience problems at school”.

Sam, who was fostered as a teenager, is always happy to share his Fostering North Yorkshire experience. He says, “My foster carers really invested in me – I’ve taken all the positives from my foster placements, it’s helped me to build my future.

“I got everything I needed from my foster family – they gave me everything I didn’t get at home – and lots of attention for all the right reasons”.

FNY is committed to ensuring that the young people it looks after can ideally stay in their local communities. This means FNY foster carers can have confidence they will not be taking teenagers from outside of the county. FNY foster carers are highly valued and come from many backgrounds, but one thing they have in common is a desire to make a difference to the lives of the young people they foster and to help them through this difficult time in their lives”.

As part of North Yorkshire County Council, however, FNY is also working with other local authorities on the transfer of unaccompanied asylum seeking children arriving in Britain.

Once they arrive in the County they undergo an assessment to ensure they are placed in a safe and secure family environment that is the best fit for them. As a consequence, FNY also needs additional foster carers who have the skills, compassion and willingness to care for one of these young people who have already been through a lot in their lives.

Being a foster carer is an incredibly important and satisfying role, helping to develop positive experiences and skills that have sometimes been missed out on earlier in life. Fostering also brings with it a generous tax-free allowance for each child and, while this is usually not the main motivation for foster carers, it is a consideration as additional income streams can be very welcome.

Foster carers attached to FNY are also given the best training available; knowledgeable support from a dedicated fostering social worker; access to professional experts and specialist services for autism and speech and language where necessary.

“When you start your fostering journey with us, you will be joining one of the country’s leading innovative local authorities with all the support that brings. Every child has potential – it just takes one person to provide the right opportunity, and that person could be you,” added Cllr Sanderson.

“If you think that you could be the one to make a difference and change a teenager’s life by giving them a safe foster home, please contact us for more information on 01609 534654, or visit FNY at www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering,”

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