Norfolk County Council launches drive to recruit foster carers for teenagers
13 September 2017
There is a national shortage of foster carers and like other councils across the UK, Norfolk needs to recruit more people who can offer a loving and secure home to some of our most vulnerable children.
The council is particularly keen to find carers for teenagers. There are just over a 1,000 looked after children in Norfolk with around a third aged between 13 and 16.
A new video has been produced as part of the campaign showing how a foster carer changed one young person’s life. Watch ‘Change a life – foster in Norfolk’ here.
Councillor Penny Carpenter, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, said: “Being a foster carer is a huge responsibility and can be extremely challenging. But by stepping in and giving a child or young person who can no longer live with their family a safe, loving home, you will genuinely be making a difference to their life and helping to set them on a fresh course for the future.
“Many of our children have experienced trauma and as a foster carer you need to understand that this can have a long-term effect. But if you are over 21, have bags of energy, lots of time and patience and are up for a challenge, you could be just the person we are looking for.”
Paul and his wife Sylvia have been foster carers for sixteen years. During that time they have undertaken just about every type of fostering placement from looking after teenagers and children with additional needs, to caring for siblings and a teenage mum and her baby.
Paul has particular experience of working with 16 to 17 year olds. He was in the army for over 25 years and has trained hundreds of young recruits from many different backgrounds.
“Teenagers have a unique set of needs and are governed by their hormones, so when you foster a teenager you need to understand the complexity of adolescence. It’s also important to understand as much of the child’s history as possible and show that you are listening without being judgmental in any way. This is crucial to building trust and a rapport from the outset.”
Paul believes that being able to set clear boundaries is an essential skill for a foster carer. “Young people need continuity and consistency but it’s also important to be able to review your boundaries and be willing to take a flexible approach if a situation needs it.”
After a long career in the army, with operations all over the world and many challenging – as well as amazing – experiences, Paul says he has never done anything as rewarding as foster caring.
“Being a foster carer is very hard work and there have been many difficult situations. But the outcome is so rewarding when you have a breakthrough and you see a child turn a corner."
For more information about fostering in Norfolk visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fostering or telephone 0344 800 8020.
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality