Foster a teen and fill your empty nest!
If September sees your child heading off to university or moving out, you might find life becomes a bit quiet.
So why not use your years of parenting experience - and spare room - to help a local teenager by becoming a foster carer?
There is a shortage of foster carers for teenagers and sibling groups in the borough, which could be down to misunderstanding. While a common misconception is that young people come into foster care because of their behaviour, the reality is that more often children come into care because of difficult circumstances at home.
By offering a teenager a foster home, you will be helping them to fulfil their potential at a critical stage in their life.
Anyone can apply to foster, whatever their background, marital status or sexual orientation. You don’t need to have had children of your own, just a spare bedroom, however some childcare experience is desirable.
Fostering will not prevent you from working, as long as you can be flexible, and you have a supportive network of friends or family. If you are on benefits, fostering will not affect these.
Elaine Atkinson is a foster carer, who specialises in looking after young people aged between 12 and 18. “I enjoy seeing them blossom,” she said. “Some of the children have gone through so many unpleasant things, but as a foster parent you can take them on to the next stage and help prepare them for the world.”
Merton council provides comprehensive support for foster carers. This includes a three-and-a-half-day training course, which forms part of the application process. Once approved as a Merton foster carer, you will receive up to £507 per week for each child you foster and be assigned your own social worker for ongoing support.
If you’d like to find out more about the role visit www.merton.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 073 0874 or 020 8545 4070.