Care leaver joins call for more stable and caring homes for teens

Care leaver joins call for more stable and caring homes for teens
26 August 2021

Darlington Borough Council is urging residents to consider becoming a paid foster carer or supported lodgings provider for the looked after teens in Darlington.

Just under a third of looked after children in Darlington are between 13 and 17 years old. “Time for Teens” runs throughout September and aims to raise awareness of young adults in desperate need of a caring home.

The manager of Darlington Borough Council’s fostering team, Jane Shade, said: “Our children really are our future – and we want to give our young people hope and opportunities and the life skills to be able to be the best they can be.  We hope to be able to help teens focus on themselves and their needs – to be healthy and happy and try to reduce their worries.”

Darlington Borough Council are particularly keen to speak to residents who can care for brother and sister groups, as well as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) who arrive in this country with nowhere else to go.

Councillor Jon Clarke, portfolio holder for children and young people, said, “We are urging people to consider becoming a paid foster carer and provide local looked after teens with a stable and loving home. If you have a spare room and a caring heart you could make a massive difference to a child at a vital stage of development.

“We’re not for profit, so everything we do is to help the child and the carer. We provide all the training and support you’ll need to become a paid foster carer, and you’ll never feel alone working with our friendly, tight-knit team.”

Kristin (24) is a Darlington care leaver who was looked after by foster carers until she was 22. Although she has left care, she is still in contact with the team, who have helped her move into a flat andprovide ongoing support to help Kristin and other care leavers settle into independent life.

Kristen  also uses her experience in care to support the council’s fostering team as she’s part of the interviewing process for new carers to ensure that applicants are suitable for the role. 

Kristin said, “I had a few ups and downs in foster care, but the council’s fostering team was always there for me. Faye, a member of the team, has helped me so much since I left care two years ago and we still keep in touch.

“It’s so important for a teenager to have a caring home – a foster carer who’s understanding and welcomes a teen into their family can make such a massive difference to the teen’s life. A little bit of patience goes a long way; teens are on their way to becoming adults so it’s really important for them to have the best start to independent living.”

The “Time for Teens” campaign, launched by Darlington Borough Council in September encourages residents to get in touch about becoming a paid foster carer or supported lodgings provider for looked after teenagers in Darlington. Banners and billboard advertisements have been displayed around the town, videos of care leavers and fostering staff will be released over social media, and a radio advertisement will be broadcast to promote teen fostering to more residents.

People who live in or near Darlington with an interest in helping local teenagers are encouraged to visit www.darlington.gov.uk/fostering to hear from real foster carers, check their eligibility with the fostering quiz, and get in contact with the team.

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