Teenage fostering scheme

Could you foster a teenager? Find out more about our Adolescent Care Team (ACT) scheme

Cumbria County Council's Adolescent Care Team (ACT) are looking for compassionate, caring and dedicated people to join us as Foster Carers for children aged 10-18 years on a permanent basis. Talk to any of our foster carers and they'll tell you about the rewards and satisfaction fostering gives them. Helping to make even a small difference to a young person's life is hugely satisfying. Could you help make a positive change to teens with complex needs? Do you have experience working with adolescents who have experienced trauma? Can you manage challenging behaviours? Teenage fostering is a unique opportunity where carers provide long-term, family-based placements to young people who are moving out of residential care or from a foster care placement outside of the county. 

Many of these young people will have encountered abuse of some kind or neglect and may already have experienced a breakdown in a previous foster care relationship. This is a varied, rewarding and challenging role which could involve improving a child's attendance at school and supporting them to step down from residential care back into a fostering 'home' environment.

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Rosie and Claire, from Egremont, are parents to two boys aged 15 and 22 and were approved as foster carers for our Adolescent Care Team (ACT) last year. ACT foster carers support young people in residential care to step down from residential back into a fostering 'home' environment. 

Rosie said: "We started thinking seriously about fostering when our eldest son left home. Claire had always wanted to foster and we'd had a bit of experience looking after my brother's foster children too, which really got us thinking. We spoke to both of our boys about it first because they are a big part of it, even though the eldest had left home."

The couple were surprised by how smoothly everything went after they contacted the council's fostering service to make an enquiry. Claire said: "We applied to foster two years ago and were quite surprised at how easy the approval process was. They do lots of checks and there is a lot of training; we did Skills to Foster training and also some specialist ACT training, then we went to panel last May and got our first placement a couple of weeks later."

When the couple started fostering, Rosie gave up full time work to become the primary carer for their foster son. She said: "When we were first asked about doing ACT, we were told that one of us had to be at home full time and we decided it would be best for me to be here full time. Our last placement showed us how important this was as I had to drive our foster son to school (an hour and a half away) every day. I really wouldn't be able to work and foster; you have school to think about, meetings and lots of training."

She added: "The training has been fantastic, it teaches you how children's brains work and you learn a lot about all the different things the children have been through, which explains why, for many, they come to us with barriers up and don't show much emotion at first. 

"Something which had a big impact on me during our training, which will always stay with me, was when we had to write three things that meant a lot to us on pieces of paper. I wrote down 'my family', 'my health' and 'our caravan'. Then the trainer took away each thing, one by one, and asked me how I felt. These children have everything that matters to them taken away from them in an instant when they come into care and it really does make you think about what the reality of what that must feel like."

While many people may find the idea of fostering teenagers daunting, for Claire and Rosie it was their first choice. Claire explained: "I'd always wanted to foster and always wanted to look after teenagers as they are the ones who get 'left on the shelf' because most people want to foster babies. 

"We find it easier working with teenagers because they might shout and slam doors but at least they are communicating and telling you what they want and what they need."

The couple admit that fostering is not without its challenges but say they have had great support from the fostering service. Rosie said: "We've had quite a few challenges but we've had the support from the social workers, but not only from them, but from our foster carer mentor, from family and friends, from the school - it is really important to have that network around you."

Both agree that the rewards of fostering far outweigh the challenges. Claire said: "I think the reward for us is seeing the change in our foster child. The biggest change was to see a smile on his face, to see the change in his demeanour; how he interacted with other children and his excitement about going out for a meal or staying in a hotel - things other children often take for granted."

Rosie finished: "I would encourage anyone thinking about ACT to go ahead and find out more. You get a lot of rewards from it and you can have a big impact on the life of a young person."

  • 24 hour support and regular contact from a dedicated social worker
  • Advanced specialist training
  • Peer support scheme
  • Links with virtual school
  • Access to respite
  • Access to an EHWB (emotional health & wellbeing) worker

Our fostering payments are a combination of:

  1. A maintenance allowance for the child - The allowance covers the costs of everything that you need to care for a child such as food, clothing, transport, personal items and household expenses.
  2. A fee paid to the carer - The foster carers' fee recognises the amount of time they dedicate to fostering, as well as their skills and experience. 

ACT carers receive a weekly fee of £406 per child plus a regular weekly allowance allocated according to the child's age:

2020/21
0 to 4 years5 to 10 years11 to 15 years16 to 18 years
£141.82 £156.45 £179.13 £217.77

Contact us on 0303 333 1216 to find out more or submit an expression of interest form