Appeal for foster parents to care for older children

Appeal for foster parents to care for older children

6 September 2017

A BALLYNAHINCH foster couple have urged others to consider looking after vulnerable teenagers.

As Barnardo’s NI warns about a shortage of carers for older children, Avril Kenwell, who has fostered with her husband Brian for 12 years, has encouraged others to undertake the challenge.

The Kenwells have fostered two teenagers in long term placements as well as providing short term fostering for many others. 

Their first foster child, Elaine, lived with them from the age of 11 to 18 and although she has now moved out, Avril says she is still part of their family and still calls her old bedroom “Elaine’s room”.

Avril said it was important for teenagers to have a foster family at a time in their lives when they can really need somebody to care for them.

“Being a teenager is hard at the best of times and being a teenager in care can be even harder,” she said.

“Having a stable, happy, loving home where you can relax and be yourself while knowing you are genuinely cared for is so important. Every teenager deserves this opportunity.”

Avril said teenagers, who might have been let down in the past, often needed someone to be there for them.

“Teenagers need time and patience. If they’re being fostered they probably need to gain confidence and will really need someone to be an advocate for them, especially with school,” she said.

“They might also have missed out on lots of things growing up that other children will have had, like going on a train or spending the day at the beach so it’s about doing those things and sharing those experiences. 

“Teenagers can need a lot of encouragement particularly if they’ve had a hard start in life.”

Barnardo’s NI director Lynda Wilson, who made the appeal for carers, said teenagers can miss out on the care and support they need to equip them for adult life without foster carers. 

“Foster families help teenagers learn essential life skills that other young people learn from their parents including how to cook, clean, wash clothes, use public transport and do small DIY tasks like changing a light bulb,” she said.

“Skills which are vital in helping them go on to lead positive independent lives.

“Being a teenager can be tough but having the support of a stable caring family can transform their lives. I’d urge anyone considering becoming a foster carer to contact us today.”

To enquire about fostering with Barnardo’s telephone 028 9065 2288 or visit