North East Connected

Foster a teenager – and help to turn a life around

Fostering North Yorkshire (FNY) is appealing for people who might have what it takes to become a foster carer – and provide a great home for a young person who can no longer stay with their birth family.

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, usually problems not of the young person’s making.

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.

Foster carers are 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.

Fiona Burks started as a carer with FNY over 10 years ago. She says that, while there are some challenges when looking after teenagers, there are also huge rewards: “Fostering teenagers is hard work, but it’s also been great fun. It has been so rewarding to have some positive input in those influential years, and with teenagers you see the results so much quicker than with a small child. And we’ve gained some extra family members as a result – we had two long-term foster placements and those young people still keep in touch with us!”

“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.

“When you decide to foster teenagers you need to have the ability to communicate with young people about the issues which are important in their lives. You will also need to be tolerant, flexible and resilient, able to deal with rejection without taking it personally – and a sense of humour also helps!”

Being a foster carer is an incredibly important and rewarding job, 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 not the main motivation for most foster carers, it is a consideration as additional income streams can be very welcome.

“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,” added Cllr Sanderson. “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.”

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