Mani and Steve have been a foster carers for five years, during which they've looked after 15 children aged 12 to 18. My Merton caught up with them for a quick chat about the highs and lows of fostering teens.
Why did you become a foster carer?
My children had grown up and moved away. I have space and I know there are so many children who need help.
What's it like fostering teenagers?
It's got its rewards and challenges but overall we do really enjoy fostering teenagers! When children come to us they don't want to engage with everyday life - the things people do like going to college or having dinner round the dining table. When you get
over that and see them really enjoying family life, that's very rewarding. When they move out, no matter how many challenges you've had with them, it's heartbreaking. It's nice when they come back or pick up the phone to ask you 'what should I do in this situation?' That makes me really happy.
What support is there from the council?
We get loads of training. The other thing I really like is that you can pick up the phone any time and speak to someone. That makes our job easy. We have a support group as well, the Fostering Network. We meet and share our experiences.
What qualities do you need to be a foster carer?
You need to be caring, tolerant, patient and non-judgmental. You have to be willing to share your space because they have to feel that your home is their home. And be a very good listener!
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