An appeal has been launched to find foster carers for teenagers.
There are almost 700 children in care in the care of Leicestershire County Council and of this number more than half - 398 - are aged between ten and seventeen years old.
The call for people to come forward and offer their care has been made by the authority as Foster Care Fortnight gets underway (10-23 May).
Tracey is a foster carer for the council and has taken care of around 20 children and young people, including a teenage boy for whom she has applied for 'permanency'. This will give him security and stability with a loving family in the longer term.
Some teenagers can sometimes be more wary of help, used to having to take care of themselves, and can see themselves as 'different'.Tracey, foster carer with the council
"Once they open up and understand that they can feel safe and welcome, they show their real personalities and goals for the future. Seeing the real effort made by these teenagers to meet these goals really gives us a great sense of achievement.
“We had heard stories about how troubled teenagers can be a handful but we can honestly say that we have not experienced anything like that.
"Everyone we have dealt with has given us the same respect that we have given them. I think teenagers just want to feel loved and part of a family, as every child does. They need a bit of consistency in their lives, and to know that there are people who will go to bat for them no matter their past.
“Watching a child come out of their shell and interact more and more with the family is wonderful. Having school teachers, social workers and independent assessors all comment on the difference in how they act with others proves it is worthwhile. Knowing you have played a small part in making that happen is very rewarding.
Sharing a personal insight, deputy assistant director for Children and Family Services at Leicestershire County Council, Nicci Collins, said: “I had a bit of a rough start to life. I had all sorts of experiences that could have been real trouble for me.
"But I had people around me who saw something special in me and made me believe I could aspire and we need those people in our children’s lives in Leicestershire.
“You don’t have to be an expert to be a great foster parent, just a caring and understanding person, who can offer patience and support.
"I would encourage anyone curious about fostering, especially for older children, to come forward during Foster Care Fortnight – or anytime – and find out how they can make a difference.”
Leicestershire County Council hopes to recruit mainstream foster carers and supported lodgings providers for teenagers, as well as specialist foster carers to care for some of Leicestershire’s most vulnerable young people.
To find out more, visit www.fosteringleicestershire.com or call the Fostering Team for an informal chat on 0116 305 05 05.
You can also join the council’s next virtual Find Out About Fostering event on Tuesday, 18 May at 6:30pm: https://form.jotformeu.com/203524489333356