Could you Foster a Merton Teenager?
A foster mum who has cared for 15 children is encouraging other people to consider becoming foster carers this summer.
Elaine Atkinson, who has been a foster carer for four years, now specialises in looking after young people between the ages of 12 and 18.
She said: "I enjoy seeing them blossom. Dealing with teenagers is not hard - you show them respect and you show them love. Every child needs a different approach but you can help to prepare them for the world."
Fostering is a way of providing a family life for a child who is unable to live with their parents.
Mrs Atkinson said: "Some of the children come from disadvantaged homes and have gone through so many unpleasant things but as a foster parent you can take them onto the next stage and help prepare them for the world. I am still in touch with many of the children I fostered - they still come over for dinner."
Merton Council urgently needs to recruit more foster carers for teenagers and sibling groups, so that they can stay together.
People of any age, ethnicity, marital status or sexuality, employed or unemployed can become foster carers, but they do need to have aspare bedroom and some experience of young people.
Merton Council's fostering team can offer advice and guidance for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer, including the assessment process, training and financial allowances. All foster carers receive comprehensive support from the local authority.
Mrs Atkinson said: "I would say give it a try to someone who is wondering whether to become a foster carer because it is very rewarding. What you put in is what you get out. It is important to be open-minded and patient so you can encourage and motivate young people. I say to them I am your foster mother but I would like to do the same for you as I would if I were your real mother."
To find out more about fostering a child or young person call: 0800 073 0874 / 020 8545 4070 or come to one our Fostering Information Meetings at Morden Baptist Church or email email@example.com
or give us a call on freephone 0800 073 0874
or alternatively dial 020 8545 4070 from a mobile