We need foster carers for all age groups. However, we will give priority to those carers who express an interest in meeting the needs of teenagers, sibling groups and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, as we currently have shortfalls in these areas.
When you apply to foster we will help you to consider the age group of the children you want to care for. We will work with you to ensure the children we place with you match your skills and experience. Ideally we recommend that you keep your age range as broad as possible, as it is important to focus on a child's behaviour rather than age.
There are many reasons why children come into care in Merton and need to live with foster carers. This may be because they suffer from ill health problems, or have mental health or addiction difficulties, or someone may have accidentally or knowingly injured their child.
All children who need foster carers will have experienced disruption and separation from their families. Some will have experienced emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. These life experiences mean children will have complex needs and some may have challenging behaviour.
The time a child may stay with a foster carer will vary from a few days to a couple of months. It could be as long as a year or even longer, if the situation is complicated. In some cases you are working towards adulthood with children or young people. We will give you specialist help, support and advice to help you to offer a caring home to any child placed with you for however long they stay.
Below we highlight some key issues in our target groups:
Teenagers need carers who are able to listen to them and help them make sense of the world and their role within it. Patience and understanding are crucial qualities for foster carers of this age group as is the ability to lay down clear and fair boundaries.
This can be an awkward time for any young person, as they start to discover their identity and find their feet. Because of the experiences they have managed, many young people need help to improve their self-confidence. Teenagers need carers who remember the emotional and physical turmoil of being this age and can be patient and resilient in order to get past the teenager's tough exterior to reach the child inside.
We believe that in most cases siblings need to be kept together. At times of separation from their parents siblings take comfort from the stability they get from each other. Taking more than one foster child into your home may feel like a daunting task, however you will receive all the support you need.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
We are seeing an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children coming into the care of Merton and urgently need foster carers to look after them. Children who come to the UK with no parents or carers are placed in the care of their nearest local authority. There are many reasons why they might not feel safe in their home countries, such as civil war and persecution for their beliefs.
We ensure that our foster carers are trained, equipped and supported to deal with the particular challenges of meeting the needs of unaccompanied children, mainly teenagers.
Parent and baby
Becoming a parent can be an overwhelming task. If, however, you are young and totally alone, the prospect of becoming a parent can be both confusing and terrifying. If you feel you are able to help a young parent by supporting, observing and assessing their parenting abilities, or helping a young parent-to-be to prepare for their parenting role, then please contact us.
Some children have special needs which can be physical, behavioural or educational. Children with special needs require specialist care and attention. If you foster these children, you will learn a great deal about the needs of children who require specialised support and during the process you will also learn about the special qualities you have in yourself.
Most of the children will start by needing a short period of fostering but sometimes this develops into a long term situation or may even progress to adoption. We need foster carers who may be prepared to take a child on a long-term basis, or until they are ready for independent living. Long-term fostering allows a child to grow up in a safe and supportive environment and to keep in touch with their birth families.
A "staying put" arrangement is different to a foster placement. The young person staying must be a former foster child who is no longer looked after. They are entitled to support as a care leaver and will be allocated a personal advisor. The foster carer is no longer acting in the capacity of a foster carer for that young adult; they are their "former foster carer". The foster placement becomes a "staying put arrangement" and is not governed by fostering service regulations and the carer will receive a different weekly fee. Please contact us if you want to find out more about this.
Take the next step
Freephone: 0800 073 0874
Telephone: 020 8545 4070