Campaign to encourage support for vulnerable teens

Pete Dwyer, director of the Children and Young People's Service and County Councillor Tony Hall (s).
Pete Dwyer, director of the Children and Young People's Service and County Councillor Tony Hall (s).

North Yorkshire County Council’s fostering service is launching a campaign to encourage more people to offer care and support to a vulnerable teenager.

For young people in care, the best environment in which to grow up happy and confident is a foster placement in a supportive, loving home.

Yet few foster carers consider a teen placement, despite the fact that those who do so talk about how rewarding the experience of supporting a young person as they move towards adulthood can be.

Steph Spaven, a 21-year-old care leaver and chair of North Yorkshire’s Young People’s Council, said: “From my own experience of being taken into care I can say first-hand how important fostering is. If a foster placement had not been found for me, it’s most likely I would have gone into a residential care home or even supported housing.

“By becoming fostered and living in a family environment it allowed me to have the support I needed to reach my full potential and be accepted into university. Being in care as a teenager can be difficult and stressful because you’re at a stage where your hormones are all over the place, and you feel vulnerable and scared and don’t really know what is going to happen next.

“Having a foster placement gave me the safety and security I needed along with feeling that I lived in a house which I could call my home, which is so important. Teenagers need to be loved and feel like they belong just as much as young children do.”

The support available for young people leaving care in North Yorkshire is recognised nationally as a beacon of good practice, with the number who go on to university being double the national average for other local authorities. However, the right placement in a home environment in a familiar area can often be crucial for a young person to thrive.

“Teenagers in North Yorkshire deserve a loving, supportive home to grow up in regardless of their background or circumstances,” said County Councillor Tony Hall, executive member for the children and young people’s service. “It’s very easy to imagine that teenagers will be more challenging than younger children, but what I hear time and again from our foster carers is how much satisfaction they get from looking after a young person and how much they enjoy helping a teenager move towards a better, brighter future.”

Information events will be held in locations around the county on Tuesday, January 20. To register for a fostering information event call 0800 054 6989.