The local authority is calling potential carers to come forward as many young people around the area are still in need of a foster home.
Fostering teenagers may come with some challenges but also huge rewards, and as part of the recruitment drive, the council is hoping to help bust the myths around fostering young people.
Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Young People, and Lead Member for Children's Services, said: “Misconceptions around fostering teenagers could leave them without the support of a loving home, care and attention. Fostered teenagers are just like any teenagers. They might try to push the boundaries and make some mistakes – just like many of us did in the past.
“What they need the most is people who can give them a safe and stable home where they are supported, encouraged and listened to. Your age, gender, whether you own a home or not is not important – it’s what you can offer a young person that counts.
"Foster carers make an enormous difference to the lives of children and young people, and we're encouraging anyone who can help give a young person a better life to get in touch."
Joining Bristol’s fostering network, carers will receive excellent training and support, and opportunities to stay connected to other foster carers in the city.
For teenagers with complex needs, the council is piloting an intensive therapeutic support programme that has already shown success with younger children. For carers with experience of supporting teenagers with complex needs, this may be an option with some additional training and an enhanced fee.
Anne, a foster carer, said: “We haven’t got children of our own and we were worried that we would find it difficult to foster teenagers. The reality was very different – after all, we were all teenagers once so, as foster carers, we could relate to some of their behaviours and situations they were experiencing.
“Naturally, as a foster carer, you will have your ups and downs but what matters more is the rewards this experience brings you. We have learnt a great deal about ourselves - how to best respond to different situations and, over time, how to guide someone else through life so they can do well.
“One of the best things about fostering teens is their growing independence. Together you can work on developing practical skills they will need later in life. Not to mention that looking after adolescents certainly keeps you up-to-date with teen culture and social issues - we have lots of fun together and feel young at heart.”
Martyna, a young care leaver, added: “I went into care when I was 15 years old. I have had a few foster placements and I have learnt a lot from every family I stayed with. I have been with my current foster family for seven years. They have always been there for me, offering helpful advice and support. They have also helped me recover from self-harming.
“The most important thing they did for me, was believing in me, believing that I can achieve what I want and that I will do well. Thanks to their support, I started to believe it too. I’m now a trainee social worker finishing my degree and I hope to be able to help others. The stability I have had in my current home was really important and helped me get to where I am today.”
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, please visit www.bristol.gov.uk/foster or speak to one of our team members on 0117 3534200. Follow Bristol City Council fostering on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about fostering teenagers.