Fostering young people can be challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Whether you are a long-term or short-term carer, you have the ability to influence the person they will grow into, and the young adult they will become.
As a foster carer, you will play a pivotal role in supporting adolescents to form and maintain positive relationships. Some young people will find this more difficult than others due to their experiences early in life.
Creating a connection and forming attachment with others can take time. Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across space and time. Early childhood experiences can influence how young people form and navigate relationships in life. If these experiences are negative, and their physical and emotional needs are not met at an early age, they may see relationships as threatening and frightening and experience difficulties later in life.
Communication is crucial as young people move through adolescence, but some will find it difficult to understanding and articulate their feelings. Young people with a history of trauma may struggle to make sense of their emotions and why they react to situations in certain ways.
We asked our experienced foster carers to share how they nurtured connections with young people in their care and they shared their wisdom below.
Establish Family Routines
Doing things together regularly is important to create a safe and predictable environment. Helping with homework, sharing dinner, walking the dog together, or watching and playing sport can help nurture connection and strengthen bonds to form.
Keep an open mind and be ready to adapt your plans and approach as needed.
One Step at a Time
It takes time to build trust and rapport, and for young people to feel safe, secure and settled in their new environment. Remember, as a foster care, you are part of a care team, so reach out to Centacare Foster Care for support.
Top Tips for Fostering and Raising Young People
- Take a step back. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Allow them time to adjust to changes in their life.
- Have empathy for what they have experienced before coming into care.
- Think about age and stage – different ages need different approaches.
- Be patient. Something that presents as an issue now may not be in a few weeks.
- Understand they may seem more daunted by than grateful for coming into your care.
- Think about trust to build their trust.
- Encourage them to stay connected to their family and culture. This is crucial for strengthening their sense of identity. Think creatively about how to achieve this. Display photos of their family around your home, support their spiritual development and, if possible, encourage regular communication with their birth family.
FAQ’s About Day-to-Day Life Matters
Foster carers have many responsibilities, from managing a young person’s day-to-day needs to creating a safe, secure and welcoming environment at home. Sometimes it’s the little things that can seem daunting. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Do young people in care have access to Medicare?
Yes, children and young people under 18 who are in care have access to Medicare benefits, including Child Dental Benefits. If a child or young person requires medical treatment that is not covered under Medicare, the foster care agency may provide additional financial support.
Can we pick which school they go to?
If a child stays with you for a short period, they will usually remain at their existing school to limit further disruption in their life. That way, they can keep in touch with their friends, teachers and other important figures in their support network.
If they stay with you long-term, schooling arrangements can be discussed with the child’s case manager.
I work full-time. Can they go to before and after-school care?
The decision for a child to regularly attend outside school hours and school holiday care should be agreed between the carer and DCP case worker and documented in the case plan.
What about school excursions and school camps?
School excursions and holiday camps can provide a wealth of positive experiences for children and young people. Carers can provide consent for a child or young person to attend school excursions and camps within South Australia. However, the DCP supervisor needs to provide formal consent for the child to attend school camps and interstate trips.
What about pocket money?
Pocket money is an important tool to teach children about money and to help them develop independence. Carers receive a fortnightly carer payment which has been calculated to include pocket money for the child.
Can they attend a sleepover at a friend’s house?
Sleepovers with friends are a normal part of growing up and are important for developing life skills. They provide an experience of being on their own in a structured, supportive and supervised environment. A child’s carer is generally in the best position to make a decision about sleeping over at a friend’s place.
Can we travel with a child or young person in our care?
Travel can be a fantastic experience for children and young people. So long as the travel plans do not interfere with their schooling or planned family contact, you can travel within South Australia. However, you may need to seek permission for interstate travel involving overnight stays.
Travelling internationally with a foster child does require a bit more planning, but it is possible. Again, you will need permission for the child to leave the country with you, and they will need a passport. The case manager can help to arrange this. To avoid disappointment, discuss travel arrangements with the case manager in advance.
Interested in becoming a foster carer for pre-teens?
If are interested in joining our circle of care, we would love to hear from you! For further information or to register your interest, please phone our Foster Care team on 8159 1400 or email email@example.com