A regular question I’ve been asked is, do you ever get attached to the young people you care for? The answer is yes. I am not sure you could look after a child without some form of attachment. Of course, getting attached to a young baby is a lot easier than getting attached to a teenager. When you are feeding, bathing, and changing a little baby then it’s very easy to bond. But you can form a relationship with an older child with hard work and perseverance. There are two phrases in Fostering I dislike, one is the ‘professionals’ meeting and the other is the ‘you are over attached’ to a young person. Let me tell you why. The term ‘professionals’ is sometimes used by Social Workers to mean ‘not the Foster Carer’. There are still some Social Workers who think that Foster Carers are not professionals even though we go through rigorous training to be approved. This attitude is certainly less common now than it used to be but it is still annoying nonetheless. The ‘over attached’ remark is normally used if you are over attached but can also be used in a more derogatory fashion on occasions. I remember a particular example where we were arguing, strongly, about education with a Social Worker and we were accused of being over attached because we were arguing, strongly, about what we thought was in the best interest of the child. I think that attitudes towards Foster Carers have changed, certainly since we were approved, and it couldn’t come quick enough. The person in the street hopefully is more aware of what fostering involves, either through the media or by knowing people who do Foster. Toddlers are probably my favourite age group, looking at 2-5 years old. They are fun, reasonably easy to work with and you can see the progress they are making with speech and behaviour. Probable contact and maybe attending reception so your organisational skills will need to be good. Will want you to play and will want your attention. 5-11 year olds are generally fun. Depending on why they have come into care can determine their demeanour and behaviour. Generally their behaviour is ok and, again, you can see the young person grow in your care. School will be an asset and working with the school is very important. The young person will normally be full of energy so lots of activities will be needed to wear them out.  Expect to lose school jumpers and scuffed shoes. Also expect bedtime stories and DVDs. Now we enter the twilight zone…teenagers! Yes I can hear people running for the hills at the mention of teenagers. The advantages are many. You can generally chat and reason with them. You can talk to them about most things. They can tell you what they like and dislike. They can join you in some activities. They can wash or dry up (always a popular one) and they tend to be quite self-sufficient. The disadvantages of looking after teenagers are quite complex as it would be caring for a full grown adult. There is the problem of learnt behaviour. Smoking, drugs and drinking. Their own identity. Sex. I can go on but if you are also a parent you will be aware of all of these plus a few more. The teenager is a complex being but can be great fun to work with.

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