Tag Archives: how can I foster?

Fostering trans young people

Transgender flag used to illustrate fostering trans young people.
Transgender flag waving in blue cloudy sky, 3D rendering

7 things trans young people need from their foster carers

We know that children and young people in foster care are highly vulnerable and need their foster carers to support and advocate for them. We also know that trans young people are vulnerable to discrimination and oppression. So how should carers prepare for fostering trans young people?

What should foster carers know about what it’s like to be a trans young person?

One could say that generally our society does not treat young people well. Teenagers are often treated with suspicion and criticism and a degree of contempt. For young people in foster care, these attitudes are largely exacerbated. When it comes to fostering trans young people, the challenges can be even more pronounced.

  • 81% of trans young people will avoid certain social situations out of fear, for example over 50% have said they avoid public toilets (Trans mental health review 2012)
  • 62% of trans young people have experienced harassment by the public in a public space (James Morton, Scottish Transgender Alliance, 2008)
  • 30% reported that a health care professional refused to discuss a trans-related concern with them (Trans Mental Health Review, 2012)
  • 84% have considered suicide at some point (Trans Mental Health Review, 2009)

Should trans young people be treated any differently when it comes to fostering?

Of course the answer is a resounding no! All children in foster care should expect their carers to support, encourage, respect and advocate for them. Trans children and young people are no different. But it would be naïve to assume that a one-size-fits-all approach will cover all eventualities. Trans young people may be dealing with additional problems related to their identity and it is this that foster carers need to be mindful of and prepared for. In short, foster carers need to educate themselves.

Metaphor for the challenges around fostering trans young people
Gender gap, sex inequality concept as male and female stand on different size cliffs. Metaphor of discrimination social issue, women superiority, feminism idea dominance.

What do trans young people need from me as their foster carer?

Most young people desire to be accepted and understood. Some trans young people will feel this need more keenly amidst rejection and ridicule by peers or society at large. As a trans young person in foster care therefore, you may be looking even more closely at your carer’s actions and reactions.

Trans young people may be dealing with additional problems related to their identity and it is this that foster carers need to be mindful of and prepared for.

  • Be empathetic.

Foster carers need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of others. How important is your identity to you? How would you feel if your identity was questioned or denied? Do all that you can to understand the young person’s perspective. Read blogs, articles, research and TALK to your young person.

  • Create a safe space.

In order to understand a young person’s point of view, you need to create trust and opportunity to share conversation. Always be led by the young person and go at their pace but the aim should be to normalise discussion. This allows a young person to feel heard and accepted.

  • Be accepting.

We all want to be accepted for who we are and foster carers have a duty to accept children and young people and meet them where they are at. Trans young people might have experienced rejection, abuse and alienation as a direct result of their identity. They have a right to be respected and accepted in the home environment.

All children in foster care should expect their carers to support, encourage, respect and advocate for them.

I also need you to…

  • Find out what is important to the young person.

What pronoun do they want you to use for them? What name? How open do they want to be with others? Do they want to access support services? Do they want to explore their identity further and do they need help to do so? Don’t assume. Ask.

  • Support the young person to educate themselves.

There are many good sources of age appropriate information which can help trans young people to understand their feelings. Seek these out and offer to share them with your young person

  • Advocate for your young person.

Once you know their experiences, expectations and desires make sure other professionals understand and abide by them.

  • Challenge other professionals!

Correct stereotypes. Be sensitive to mis-gendering. Try to engage those who don’t listen.

Fostering a trans young person? Start right here.

Trans Youth in Care have produced an excellent guide and toolkit. In addition to this they have a great list of further resources. Well worth a look!

If you think you have what it takes to foster a young person, get in touch with EFS at info@easternfosteringservices.com or visit our Facebook page to learn a bit more or find out about our information events near to you.

Becoming a foster carer: 5 things you should know

Becoming a foster carer will change your life. Here are 5 things you should know.

  • Fostering is hard but rewarding

Becoming a foster carer is one of the bravest steps you can take. It is a job that takes place in your home, 24/7. Fostering will require you to make changes to your life. Not only will you be fostering the most vulnerable children in society but you will be working within a difficult system too. It’s hard work. BUT the rewards are beyond anything you could expect in any other job. If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?” With the right support, from the right fostering agency, fostering can be a joy.

Male and female foster carers with their two birth sons, smiling and looking excited.
Becoming a fostering family
  • When you become a foster carer your life will change too!

As with any big life change, foster carers need to learn to live differently. When you apply to foster, you will open your life up to examination. It is important that foster carers realise that no-one is judging them. You are not expected to be saintly! Fostering providers need to check that you have what it takes to foster and that you are offering the best standard of care for the child. However within that, it is understood that you are an individual with your own approach and you should be free to add your uniqueness to the fostering process. Any good provider will nurture you as an individual and support you to foster in the best way you can.

If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?”

  • You may lose some friends but you’ll gain some too.

Not everyone will understand the changes that will happen in your life when you foster. Many of your friends will want to support you; undoubtedly friends like this are gems and will form an important part of your support network. But there will be others who don’t understand that you may need to cancel plans at the last minute. They might not understand your motivations and feel left out. It is important that you can be part of a fostering community. Making friends with other carers will ensure that you feel understood and supported. Take advantage of the fostering communities offered to you by your fostering provider.

  • You will surprise yourself.

Fostering gives you endless opportunity to learn about yourself. The children that you care for will provoke all manner of reactions in you! Some children may cause your own unresolved issues to surface. It is for this reason that you must choose a fostering provider who will offer excellent support and supervision. But it’s not all bad! When you foster, you will discover strengths you did not know you had. As you help children to heal, you too will grow, learn and develop as a person.

In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

  • Fostering will make your life richer.

We all know that good foster carers can transform the lives of children. This is one of the main motivations of good foster carers. Yet, it is also true to say that fostering will transform and enrich the lives of fostering families. Foster carers often tell us that their birth children have become more resilient, more empathetic and more emotionally intelligent. Both children and adults who foster learn something vital about their own humanity and that of others who are different to them. In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

If you think that you have what it takes to become a foster carer, we have lots of information on our website, including some excellent fostering seminars. Find out more about fostering here.

We also post information about Eastern Fostering Services events on our Facebook page. See if there is a fostering event near to you!