12 May 2021
The Government of Jersey has launched a campaign to recruit more foster carers for teenagers, as part of Foster Care Fortnight.
The theme of Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until 23 May, is "Why We Care" and aims to raise the profile of foster carers.
This year, the Fostering and Adoption team, at the Children, Young People, Education and Skills Department, is encouraging Islanders to consider fostering teenagers to help change a future.
A foster carer and a teenager, who was in foster care, have shared their experiences, as part of the new campaign, Make Time for Teens, which aims to raise awareness and recruit more foster carers for teenagers.
Mark Owers, Director of Safeguarding and Care said: "Could you be the person to help change a teenager's life? Jersey needs to find enough foster carers for our teenagers. We need more local carers so that we can provide family placements for our young people. With the right support and training, this can become the most wonderful and rewarding role for a foster carer.
"That's why it's so important that our fostering service finds the right foster home for each child, first time and help to make time for teens."
Nineteen-year-old Ceira, who was fostered at the age of 16 for six months, has just accepted an offer to study for a social work degree this September.
Ceira described what made a difference in her life when she was in foster care: "I was in full-time education. I had a part-time job and I needed stability. Having somewhere that I knew I was going to bed at night and where I knew someone was going to smile at me, when I was walking out the school in the morning, made all the difference."
Ceira has this advice for anyone considering fostering a teenager: "You don't need to be perfect. You don't need to be a professional. You don't need to be care experienced either. You don't need to live in a mansion. A two-bedroom family home that's a bit of a mess, is quite okay.
"You just need to be human and you need to be caring, and with these combined, you have the potential to be a foster carer. And that's all you've got to do."
Mother of two, Lauren Burnett, a recruitment officer for Fostering and Adoption Jersey, is a foster carer for teenagers. She said that fostering a teenager has been one of the most inspiring and rewarding roles.
Lauren said: "Fostering a teenager can seem very daunting. But if like me, you've had trouble through your own teenage years, you can use your personal experiences to help change a young person's life.
"Sharing my own experiences of care, my memory boxes, not-so-glowing school reports, photos and diaries with my teenage foster daughter has really helped us to bond.
"This allowed my teen to see that it really doesn't matter how you start off on your journey or what others' opinions are of you. It's in your own hands, entirely, how you finish your story.
"I had a particularly tough period in my teenage years. My mum and dad were going through a divorce. I had two younger brothers and I also had additional emotional needs at that time. My family and I are now extremely close. I learned a lot of useful information during my journey. Especially, healthier coping mechanisms and just how capable I really am.
"As a teenager I was loud and bolshy and had little self-worth. I was described as a "fantasist", when I was 14-years-old.
"Of course, I was a fantasist. I wasn't happy with the reality of the world I was living in, so I created something more exciting. Yet I call this manifestation now as I manifested a better life for myself. To open a fashion store in America, to buy my own home for my family, to own my dream car, to have children and a job role I love.
"I manifested all these things into a reality. It wasn't an easy route. I took every possible wrong turn before I got there, but I recognise the important people that came in at the right time with either love or wisdom. I took pieces from all these people and put them into my current role as a foster carer.
"Teenagers, especially those who have experienced trauma, need so much love. They need to see that people get things wrong but never give up. They need to see from their carers that there isn't one way to get your dreams - there are a thousand diﬀerent routes. It is important to ﬁnd something they are interested in and nurture, nurture, nurture.
"So, I wanted to pass on all my life lessons to someone who would truly beneﬁt. This is why I fostered.
"My time with my teenage foster daughter is full of fun. We love sea swims, which is great for changing a negative mindset. We roller-skate together. We create TikToks and make-up tutorials. We love to go on long drives and listening to rap music or any music where they express repression and strength.
"We also set up a small business together, which helped her to buy her first car. The business taught her basic social media advertising skills, time management and money management. It showed her that with creativity and initiative you can make money and have business skills regardless of your academic ability.
"I'm so proud and inspired by her journey and have learned so much from fostering a teenager too.
"We need more Islanders to come forward to help foster our teenagers. You should not be worried about fostering a teenager. It has been one of the most wonderful and rewarding roles, I have ever done and there is a special place for her in my heart forever."
Could you be the person to help change a teenager's life?
Make Time for Teens and apply to be a foster carer at via the Government of Jersey website.
Watch Ceira's story online via youtube.