20 October 2023

Why foster teenagers? Tackling the youth foster carer crisis in North West

Why foster teenagers? Tackling the youth foster carer crisis in North West

Overview: A look at the urgent need for more homes for teenagers in foster care and the need for foster carers in Manchester and the wider North West region. Plus, fees and allowances for fostering young people explained with examples.

The need for teenage fostering in the North West

In over two decades of working with foster families in the North West, we’ve found that when some foster carers come to us, they already have fostering teens in mind. Often, they’ve worked with teenagers in another setting or are parents with adult children no longer living at home. However, it’s not essential to have any previous experience of caring for the age group. Some potential foster carers discover during the application process that their circumstances mean they’re more suited to looking after teens. As a foster carer looking after teenagers, you can have a significant and positive impact at a time of great change.

Could you provide safety, stability and guidance to a teenager in care? 

Is there a shortage of foster carers in the UK?

Over the last few years, the number of children who need foster care has consistently risen. According to The Fostering Network, there are close to 70,000 children and young people living with almost 55,000 foster families across the UK each day. 

To reduce wait times for children in need of safe, loving homes, to keep more siblings together and reduce the distances looked after children need to travel, we need more foster carers. With more foster families, children who come into foster care can be better and more quickly matched with homes that best meet their needs. 

More homes are needed to give our young people in care the experience of nurturing and supportive family life during their transformative teenage years. 

Manchester Fostering Statistics – how many foster carers are needed in Manchester?

In 2023, the Fostering Network estimated 850 more foster carers were needed in the North West. At Safehouses, we work with local authorities in and around Manchester and Lancashire to find the right homes for teenagers. Every week, we are approached to find homes for children in Manchester and surrounding areas. 

Benefits and support for fostering teens

Looking after teenagers brings different challenges than caring for younger children. As teenagers head towards adulthood, they’re typically more independent and might want to spend more time alone. In terms of day-to-day care, they’re likely to need less supervision. Teens also usually spend time in education during the daytime.

Of course, our teenage years are times of emotional and physical development; there are academic and social hurdles, too. As a foster carer working with teens, your role will be to help them navigate what can already be a difficult time without the added complications of the circumstances that brought them into foster care. 

Training for teenage fostering

You’ll receive free foster care training to prepare you for this role. During your training, you’ll develop the tools and skills you need to deal with more challenging situations. All Safehouses foster carers complete introductory training to Attachment and Trauma-Informed CareTM (ATICTM) along with the PACE – Playfulness, Acceptance, Care and Empathy approach. The training will help you to recognise and understand the experiences behind certain behaviours and guide your calm responses to them. 

You’ll also have a support team around you to call on for help and advice:

  • Our buddy mentoring scheme matches those new to fostering with experienced foster carers. 
  • There is a 24/7 support line for out-of-hours help and advice.
  • You can seek help and advice from your social worker and support worker.
  • We run specialist foster carer support groups and activities where you can meet with other foster carers and fostering families. 

Foster care pay scale Manchester

As an independent fostering agency, we set our fees for foster carers. We really value our foster carers and pay professional rates to reflect the skilled work they do. We’re also proud to be part of the Five Rivers Child Care family. Five Rivers is a social enterprise committed to turning children’s lives around. Our partnership with them allows us to offer support and benefits foster carers at many other smaller agencies aren’t able to access, such as educational and therapeutic support. 

We regularly review our rates for foster carers, which are made up of two elements: maintenance and allowance.

Maintenance: Covers gas, electricity, clothes, and pocket money (things the child uses or needs). This part of the fee is not taxable.

Allowance: Like foster carer ‘wages’, these are subject to tax but come with a tax-free allowance. You can find more information about this on our payments and benefits page

Foster care pay scale in Manchester

The fostering fee you receive is set on a scale based on the age of the children you look after.

  • Age 0 – 4 From £423 per week per child
  • Age 5 – 12 From £449 per week per child
  • Age 13 – 18 From £476 per week per child

Example: A child is placed aged 14, the fostering fee is £476 for a teen.

The maintenance element is set at £200.00 per week (non-taxable)

The allowance element is set at £250.00 per week (taxable)

“I’d say thank you. It’s a big impact you have on foster children when you look after them. You all do it so spectacularly, it’s kind of astounding.”
Gareth, Safehouses Care Leaver. 

Can you help us tackle the youth foster care crisis?

You don’t need to have experience in parenting or looking after teens, as you will receive specialist training and support. However, people who have previously been involved in youth work sometimes find that fostering teenagers is a rewarding and natural progression for them. What’s important is that you’re committed to providing a safe and loving home for a teenager in need and can help them prepare for the next stage in their lives. 

You can learn more about fostering teenagers in different types of fostering . You can also discover the impact of foster carers through watching real-life stories like this one from one of our care leaver, Gareth.

Got a question that’s not covered here? Get in touch. Our team would love to hear from you!