Close this search box.
Challenge Community Services Logo - Mobile Version
Close this search box.

Teenagers in need

Why teens?

Over the past decade, the number of children in out-of-home care in NSW has increased by almost 60 per cent from 11,843 to 18,659.

More than 11,000 of them are older children, between the ages of eight and 17.

The sad reality is that many teens in foster care don’t have an easy time becoming adults and many struggle with basic life skills. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show every year about 1200 young people in NSW age out of out-of-home care.

The phrase “age out” is a term to describe youth who turn eighteen before finding a permanent home. This is an unsympathetic term to describe a child being without a forever family forced to face the world alone.

A Challenge community Services team member sits with a boy and a woman at a park

Every stage of parenting is hard

Every stage of parenting is hard. Newborns don’t sleep through the night, toddlers destroy everything and suck out the little energy you have, and middle schoolers are coming into their emotions and it’s like playing mood roulette. So to say fostering a teen is hard, it is not breaking news. It’s just a different kind of hard. As with many hard things, it is worth it and there is a surprising amount of unexpected joy.

Not everyone is suited to foster caring for a young child, but foster care for teens really opens the door to a variety of other people, including empty-nesters and singles. Generations such as Baby Boomers and Gen X have so much to offer children and young people. If you are in good health and have lots of love to give, foster care could be one of the best decisions of your life. Older foster carers often say they feel tremendous satisfaction from feeling that they’re still useful to the younger generation.

Living in an uncertain limbo

Imagine being 12 years old and waking in an unfamiliar motel room. It’s not safe for you to live with your parents right now – you don’t know when you’ll be able to go back home or how long you’ll need to live in the motel. A youth support worker gets you ready for school. She’s nice, but you wish you could live in a house like the other kids at school.

There are almost 20,000 children desperately in need of a safe and secure home in NSW. Yet due to a critical shortage of foster carers, some of these children have no loving foster home to give them sanctuary. Through no fault of their own, these children are living in an uncertain limbo in motel rooms with support workers looking after them.


We welcome foster carers independent of their sexual orientation. If you can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child or young person, you will be able to start your journey of becoming a foster carer.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and Challenge welcomes all who are interested in becoming a carer. Whether you are single, de facto or married, the important part is that you can provide a safe and nurturing home for a child in need.

Have all children in foster care experienced abuse?

Not all children are placed in foster care because of abuse. Some parents are unwell, some have had severe financial difficulties, and some parent find themselves in a position where they cannot adequately provide the care needed for their children.

There’s a variety of reasons why children are in the foster care system, and it’s important to understand this in relation to how children express themselves through their interactions and emotions.

If an emergency were to arise during your time as a carer, you can access our after-hours support number.

To become a foster carer you will need to have a spare bedroom in your house for a child or young person. A bedroom allows a child to feel they have an opportunity to rest, play, be creative and feel like they have somewhere to belong. It is a room that they can take ownership of and call their own.

Having your own children share the same bedroom with a foster child is generally not accepted, neither is having a house member sleep in another room, i.e. in the living room, to allow for a spare bedroom.

It doesn’t matter if you own the home you are living in or if you are renting. As long as you have a spare bedroom and can provide a safe environment, home ownership is not essential.

Some people have concerns that having children enter their care will impact negatively on their biological family.

The reality is that some of our biggest advocates are the children of foster carers who are vocal about how much they enjoy sharing their lives with other kids.

At Challenge, we assess the needs of each family and undertake placement matching to ensure your family and your foster child are supported through the transition. Your biological children and your foster child will learn from each other. They acquire interpersonal skills of consideration, sensitivity and understanding. This learning opportunity will be shared by their foster siblings as they navigate the experience together.

Family contact will be dependent on the goal of the child or young person’s case plan, as well as any specific Court

Orders or agreements. Carers may be expected to transport children and young people to and from contact as well as supervising contact where it is safe and appropriate to do so. Caseworkers will provide support and training to carers to assist carers in fulfilling this role, where required. There may be times where transport and/or supervision is facilitated by the Case Worker or another authorised person. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Challenge promotes the exchange of information to the child or young person’s family as a way of building relationships and supporting the development of personal and cultural identity for children and young people. As part of this process, Challenge will consult with you in relation to the information that will be released to family members, and a risk assessment will be completed prior to any information being exchanged.

Scroll to Top