Laura was 25 and Ben 26 when they became accredited foster carers.
As a teenager Laura knew she was interested in being a foster carer. She enjoyed spending time with kids, had done volunteer work in Thailand with children that was inspiring, and she was interested in a career in social work.
When she met her husband Ben it was an early and important conversation they had in their new relationship. Ben took longer to process the idea of fostering although he was open to it. Through discussion and plenty of information gathering they eventually started weekend respite care and realised it was for them.
They now have full time care of three siblings who first came to them as teenagers at 11, 13 and 14 years old. As well as the three teenagers, two years ago Laura and Ben had a biological child.
How did their friends and family react to the news that they were planning on fostering in their 20s?
Laura said initially they were surprised because of their age, and they were living in a little apartment above a shop in Camberwell and they were not set up as you might be when you’re older.
Starting out with short term placements let them test if they were suited to fostering.
Does it help being a millennial foster carer? Laura believes parenting is parenting and nothing really prepares you for it. They also had no expectations about foster care.
“It was a completely new journey for us,” Laura said.
The positive of being younger is that they had energy to commit to the kids.
“I can remember what it was like being a teenager myself and it’s helped me to understand a bit more about what’s going on in their age group. I might be more relaxed about some things,” she said.
She believes there’s no such thing as the perfect parent. As a young foster carer it’s about giving it a go and seeing if it’s a good fit for you. Laura and Ben both have jobs and they still lead their own lives. They make adjustments in the same way that at all parents do.
‘You don’t need to wait for life to be perfect, you don’t have to have everything set up or to be married or own your own home,” Laura said.
“You can start slowly by only committing to one weekend a month. You can also choose the age range of kids you would like to care for, most people don’t realise that.”
There’s support for carers through an assigned case worker who visits regularly and is always available by phone. And there are excellent support services available for the foster children like tutoring, physiotherapy and counselling.
‘The most important thing is giving it a go, anyone over 21 can be a foster carer. Just start of slowly and see it’s the right fit,’ Laura said.
We’re celebrating our amazing young carers as part of Foster Care Week 2018. Find out more here.
By Belinda Daw