LGBTQ+ foster carers

BECOMING A CARER

We desperately need LGBTQ+ foster carers to foster queer young people

Author: Jamie McCreghan   In: Becoming a Carer
LGBTQ+ foster carers

The UK desperately needs more LGBTQ+ foster carers.

Each year around 30,000 young people enter the UK’s foster care system. An increasing number of these young people identify as LGBTQ+.

In 2022, a University of Birmingham study found that LGBTQ+ young people faced “significant health, mental health and well-being inequalities compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers, whilst living in foster and residential care” and “experience discrimination and rejection because of their LGBTQ+ status.”

The solution is to place these young people with foster carers who identify as LGBTQ+ and understand the queer experience first-hand.

Could that foster carer be you? Do you have room in your heart and your home to care for a young LGBTQ+ person?

Got Questions?

If you want to know more about becoming a foster carer in London, ask our team here

cultural heritage
As young people get older, they become more accountable for their behaviours.

Sandjea’s story

Queer Londoner Sandjea has been passionate about tearing down barriers to opportunities for young people since she was a teenager. At 23, she became a foster carer. Sandjea said over her more than 20-year fostering career, she’s realised just how important it is for queer kids to have queer carers.

LGBTQ+ foster children
Queer foster carers can make a real difference to the lives of young queer people.

“The amount of young people who are still ostracised or thrown out of their homes because they’re queer in 2024 is unreal,” she said. “You can make such a difference. “My foster daughter had so many issues but, in my home, her sexuality was not one of them. There’s a sense of pride for me that that was completely normalised from day one in our household. I have a huge queer community, so it’s just something my young people see every day. The power of that should not be underestimated. That’s something unique to queer carers.”

A broken system

Sandjea has fostered several LGBTQ+ young people, and actually left her Local Authority’s care system and moved, together with her young person, to an independent foster care agency in order to get the support she needed to properly look after them.

“When it comes to kids in care, when it comes to young people that don’t fit the societal mould, that have been rejected, there is a lot of bias,” Sandjea said. “These kids are still developing, working out their identity, and the system talks about race and religion, but it doesn’t even ask a question about sexuality.

“When I moved to Lika, they actually tailor-made an LGBTQ+ training course for me.”

queer young person
Sandjea took her queer young person to her first ever Pride parade.

Queer foster carers matter

A 2023 study by the charity Just Like Us found queer young people who felt supported growing up were nearly twice as likely to be happy in early adulthood and four times less likely to feel shame at being LGBTQ+.

“It’s every carer and parent’s responsibility to make sure that a young person grows into the full expression of who they are,” Sandjea said.

Sandjea said fostering was an opportunity to make an incredible difference in a young person’s life.

“I had a real a sense of pride and joy when I took my young person to her first Pride march. She was a young person who was scared of crowds but was really clear about her queer identity and she wanted to celebrate that. To get to celebrate that with my foster daughter, as a queer person, was really special.”

We need LGBTQ+ foster carers

There is no official data on how many queer kids are in the UK’s foster care system but as an independent foster care agency operating in London and around the UK, we’re seeing referrals for an increasing number of young people who identify as LGBTQ+ or non-binary, including some who had not been able to stay with their birth families because of their transition, being in a same-sex relationship, or for religious or cultural reasons.

We want to match some of these kids to carers who are from similar demographics, who can have a conversation in a way that feels a lot more natural than it might for other carers who aren’t from LGBTQ+ backgrounds and might feel uncomfortable or be worried about getting it wrong.”

A teenage boy walks down a street
Lika is looking for gay, lesbian, trans and queer people to become foster carers.

Who makes a good foster carer?

Jamie said Lika was currently recruiting LBGTQ+ foster carers to meet this need, and he urged any queer person who was interested in fostering to get in touch.

“Maybe you’ve had challenges in the past but you’re in a stable place now,” he said. “We’re looking for people with diverse experiences who are open to caring for a young person who needs to explore their identity, who are in a good place to offer that young person space and time and to build up their confidence.”

Just go for it

Sandjea encouraged any LGBTQ+ person who felt fostering calling to them to go for it.

“If you’ve got love in your heart and space in your life and you know that you want to give that to a child, then do it,” she said.

Her advice?

  • Look for an agency where you feel “I can be me here”./li>
  • Go in with a list of questions about how you and your young person are going to be supported.
  • Make sure your agency has training specific to fostering for LGBTQ+ young people.
pride flag
Sandjea encouraged any LGBTQ+ person who felt fostering calling to them to go for it.

A little bit more about Lika

Lika is a therapeutic fostering agency, rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Every decision we take is based on Systemic Family Therapy principles. That means relationships, openness and honesty are at the heart of everything we do. All Lika foster carers receive extensive training in Systemic Family Therapy principles and therapeutic parenting techniques.

It’s similar to the training a newly qualified social worker receives (although not quite as technical) — so you’ll be fully prepared for your first placement and be viewed as a professional foster carer in your own right.

Being a Lika foster carer means always receiving specialised and consistent support from our expert team of professionals.

Your support will include:

  • 1 to 4 weekly supervisions with your supervising social worker to talk through and understand the needs of your young person
  • 24/7 out-of-hours access to one of the Lika team, so you’re never unsupported if things feel difficult
  • Access to Lika’s team of skilled and knowledgeable Systemic Psychotherapist Consultants and Systemic Social Work Practitioners, who are never stuck for ideas on how to support
  • Virtual monthly foster carers support meeting, led and chaired by experienced foster carers
  • Virtual fortnightly Therapeutic Family Consultations, facilitated by one of our psychotherapists and open to all our agency’s foster carers
  • Membership to the National Association of Therapeutic Parents and The Fostering Network
  • Life coaching for foster children, birth children and foster carers
  • Our Mentor Support Scheme, which partners new foster carers with more experienced foster carers
  • Free training for fostering support networks. (Your family and friends are welcome to join any of the training Lika offers.)
  • Access to Lika’s support workers, depending on the level of need for the young person
  • Access to Lika’s Educational Consultant, who can offer ideas and advocacy in supporting young people to achieve in education
  • Help from Lika’s Systemic Social Work Practitioners/Therapists, who can undertake skilled direct work without waiting lists for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • 14 to 21 days of paid respite (depending on complexity) to recharge your batteries and have some space for self-care.

Thinking about becoming a foster carer?

If you’re in south or east London and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, give the helpful team at Lika a call on 020 8667 2111. We’re here to answer all your questions.

We’re in the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Merton, Lambeth, Westminster, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Haringey, Newham, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea,We’re currently in Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Bexley, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Westminster, Enfield, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Waltham Forest, Harrow, Essex, Nuneaton, and Tameside.

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