Handbook for foster carers who support teenagers

Date: 21st February 2017
Category: Looked after children
Author: The REES Centre

Topics covered include the start of the placement, adolescent development, attachment, boundaries, risk taking and aspirations. Each chapter has top tips and discussion points to help foster carers support the young people in their care.

This handbook is aimed at foster carers and those who support them, for example their families, supervising social workers, children's social workers, teachers, fostering providers and therapists. It provides a resource for those involved in fostering teenagers and we recommend that it is provided as part of fostering training for anyone intending to foster teenagers or at the point of new teenage placements.

In 2013, the Rees Centre and the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at Oxford University, together with the social work departments of the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden were awarded a grant from the ESRC to run a series of seminars entitled Teenagers in Foster Care. Six seminars took place between the beginning of 2014 and the summer of 2015 on topics including relationships with teenagers in foster care, teenage sex and risk, asylum-seeking children, juvenile justice, and leaving care.

As well as students and researchers, foster carers, young people, social workers and managers from charities and local authorities attended the events. In this way, the seminars were able to genuinely involve those concerned with these topics. As a result the discussions were extremely lively and informative.

Research findings were presented at the seminars, and these have been incorporated into the handbook. However the handbook is not a report of the research findings but a summary of the key points for foster carers. All the information in this handbook is informed by research. The discussion points in each chapter are for foster carers to self-reflect or for social workers to use in their discussions with carers. As much detail as possible has been included so that the handbook will be helpful for foster carers in their relationships with the teenagers in their care.