It’s that dreaded time for teenagers and parents alike – A Level results are out. Whether youngsters do as well as expected, or have to go through clearing, university life is just around the corner for around one third of the UK’s 18 year olds – and an ‘empty nest’ for worried parents.
For some parents, an empty nest is a welcome relief from the hectic schedule of looking after teenagers. No more loud music, no people creeping in the front door hours past bedtime, and no more sulky teenagers. However, for some, the quiet life just doesn’t cut it. That need to love, care, nurture and mentor someone just isn’t being met – could fostering provide the solution?
Parents can go through a lot raising their children including – but not limited to – sleepless nights, stress, worry, tears of happiness and frustration, and we think this gives them a fantastic set of skills which can be utilised through fostering. Providing a safe and secure home for a child or young person is only part of becoming a foster carer, having the patience, commitment, perseverance and determination to succeed are just as important. Fostering can provide a refreshingly different challenge from traditional parenthood – one that many find extremely rewarding. For many, the ‘empty nest’ stage of their life is the perfect time to consider fostering. The impact of birth children is lessened as they begin their exciting new life at university; there are less financial pressures with one less mouth to feed, along with extra space in the home. When children return from university in holidays or visit as adults they provide an excellent role model for young people in your care and a welcome distraction.
Of course, we mustn’t forget that young adults that fly the nest temporarily for university frequently return for reading weeks, half terms and holidays – so bear in mind you need space for your returning birth children! It’s important that their space and position within the family home is maintained.
The journey to becoming a foster carer usually takes around 4-6 months to complete. During this time, a social worker will complete an assessment on you and your family – which includes contacting birth children, completing a series of background checks and references, and involves attending a 3-day training course arranged locally. Once approved as foster carers, you will be supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by qualified Social Workers, attend regular training courses, and receive a generous weekly allowance to assist with household living costs.