The teenager's foster carer's handbook
Caring for young people in foster and residential care and helping them become adults
Fourth edition

By Ann Wheal with Meral Mehmet

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

SIGNIFICANT DISCOUNTS are available for multiple copy purchases of this book. Please see below for details.

"A good carer is someone who sits down and listens to you and discusses things with you." A young person's view.

Acclaimed across three previous editions, this handbook can help anyone looking after young people aged 12 years and over, including those with special needs, to provide care that equals or surpasses what is required.

"All practice should be based on ensuring 'it is good enough for my child'. We hope this book will help." The authors.

For foster carers who are working with young people, it is also useful for residential carers and for anyone helping prepare young people for adult life. It is packed with detailed guidance about looking after young people, being a foster carer and living in a fostering household or care home. It explains the law, procedures and roles of the people involved; and gives detailed advice on how to manage the numerous large and small things needing attention in any young person's life - education, health, respect, money, relationships, and much more. It aims to:
  • Explain how carers can work with and care for the young people in their care.
  • Enable young people to return to their families when appropriate.
  • Enable carers to meet the full range of a young persons needs.
  • Explain the caring roles and responsibilities.

  • Although there are differences in detail, the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all make similar requirements of carers. This book aims to help all carers achieve the expectations placed on them and maintain standards. It underlines and encourages the use of relevant government standards, and gives examples of good practice.

    A comprehensive guide that can be called on when just about anything arises, it has been developed:
  • For carers to read themselves; to read with the young people they are caring for; and to read with their own children.
  • To help carers make appropriate decisions, and answer the many questions young people may ask about their time 'being looked after.
  • For use as a 'talking tool': it includes photocopiable supporting activities to help young people understand the present, face the future with confidence and, in time, become independent adults and move on.
  • For use in supervision and training.

  • Anyone wishing to combine this book with their own material can obtain a loose-leaf version from the publisher.

    From reviews of previous editions...

    "A book which will have considerable value for carers and young people alike... refreshingly direct... without jargon... deserves a wide readership." Community Care.

    "This well-presented and accessible publication is to be commended for its clarity and sheer practical usefulness." Care and Health.

    "Provides answers to the questions young people may ask. Covering subjects such as living arrangements, money, education, health, personal development, the law, and becoming independent, it is an easy to use and reliable reference guide." ChildRIGHT.

    "Covers the details of care system bureaucracy as well as nuts and bolts issues." Young People Now.

    A4 paperback. 192 pages. 978-1-905541-81-2. Published 2012. £29.95.

    Please note: The previous editions of this book have been published under different titles: the First Edition Answers for Carers was published by Longman in 1994; the Second Edition Answers for Carers was published by Pavilion in 1999; the Third Edition Young People in Foster and Residential Care was published by Russell House in 2003.


    Substantial discounts are available on bulk purchases of this book, in either paperback or loose-leaf format:
    - single copy £29.95 (paperback only)
    - 25 copies £23.00 each
    - 50 copies £21.00 each
    - 100 copies £18.50 each.
    Terms and conditions apply. Please note, there is a minimum order of 25 copies for the loose-leaf format. Please contact RHP for details, and for prices for quantities other than those listed (tel: 01297 443928; fax 01297 442722; e-mail


    The way England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been devolved over the past years has resulted in variations on the way each country takes responsibility for social care. This has led to some marked differences, and one such is in the requirement to work with nationally proscribed standards. Please refer specifically to the website for each country's government department for more details. BAAF and the Fostering Network also work across the four countries, and are able to give more details.

    Although there are differences in detail, the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all require that carers:
  • Understand the principles and values essential for fostering children and young people.
  • Understand their role as a foster carer.
  • Understand health and safety and health care.
  • Know how to communicate effectively with children.
  • Understand the development of children and young people.
  • Know how to keep children and young people safe from harm.
  • Know the importance of self-development.

  • The aim of this book is to:
  • Help all carers achieve the expectations placed on them and maintain standards.
  • Underline and encourage the use of relevant government standards
  • Give examples of good practice.


    Social workers and trainers in social services, voluntary and independent agencies. Foster and residential carers working with children approximately 12 years and over. Anyone working with care leavers. NVQ/SNVQ students. Anyone involved in parenting education or family support.


    Ann Wheal
    was a teacher in inner-city schools and colleges before working at the University of Southampton in the Social Work division. Her areas of research were children in care and children leaving care. Ann has been a governor at a special needs nursery and a volunteer in a secure unit. She has published widely in the area of children and families.

    Meral Mehmet is a freelance social work consultant with 30 years' experience in social services, and 20 years' in fostering. She has worked with a variety of fostering providers and in a range of fostering and child care related roles, including for social care in Turkey and UNICEF, and has for the past 12 years been a freelance consultant and trainer and for the past 5 years a tutor at Middlesex University.


    About this book
    Who is the book for?
    How the book works
    Inch by inch: helping young people to succeed
    How to use this handbook
    Who Cares?
    Carers' responsibilities
    Foster care agreement/annual review
    Support groups
    Allegations against carers
    Complaints against carers
    Men who foster
    Insurance for carers
    Unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children
    Training and guidance for carers and social workers
    Registration of social workers
    Who's who in helping young people
    Being Looked After
    Settling in
    The placement plan
    The care plan
    Young people's reviews
    Disruption meetings: when a placement breaks down
    Family group conferences
    Child protection conference
    Working with parents
    Children of foster carers
    House rules
    Cover stories
    A welcome book
    Collecting mementos
    Life work
    A Place to Live
    Foster homes
    Children's homes
    Supported lodgings
    Secure units
    The home environment
    Health - Physical and Mental Well-Being
    Staying healthy
    Health matters
    Advice and confidentiality
    Brain development
    Dental care
    Visiting the dentist
    Drug and solvent abuse
    Eating disorders
    Eye care
    Facts of life, puberty and sexual health
    Foot care
    Hay fever
    Health assessments
    Health record
    Mental health/emotional health and well-being
    Personal hygiene
    Preventative Medicine
    Health record sheet 1
    Health record sheet 2
    Some of the problems and how to help
    Partnership with parents/carers
    Young people out of school
    Education and school
    Truancy and exclusions
    Education: a young person's checklist
    Helping with homework clubs in your area
    Tackling coursework
    Aiding revision
    Education of young people with special educational needs
    Part-time jobs
    Glossary of Terms
    Different types of schools
    Mainstream schools
    Special educational provision
    Respecting Diversity, Understanding Religions and Culture
    Religion and spirituality
    Race, nationality, ethnic origin and culture
    Sex and sexuality
    Personal Development
    Introduction: growing up
    Decision making
    Going to college in the next town
    Encouraging positive behaviour
    Care and control
    Self respect/confidence/self-esteem
    Know yourself checklist
    Self harm
    Listening and being listened to
    Forming Relationships
    Introduction: friendships
    Making and keeping friends
    Staying with friends
    Personal relationships and sex
    Sex and the law
    Indecent exposure
    On-line grooming
    Bracing the topic of sex
    Coping with Crisis or with Sadness: Improving Well-being
    Introduction: expressing pain
    Worries checklist
    Loss and bereavement
    Leisure: what to do in your free time
    The electronic age: TV, computer games and surfing the net
    Mobile phones
    Social networking sites
    Introduction: money matters!
    What are you entitled to?
    Managing money
    Bank accounts and savings
    Managing money/budgeting/saving checklist
    Becoming Independent
    After care: a young person's view
    Preparation and planning
    Making a plan
    Housing checklist
    Works experience/internship
    Getting a job
    Preparing your CV
    What is a person specification?
    Job interviews
    At the interview
    Getting an offer
    Getting a rejection
    Hearing nothing at all
    Review sheet
    How to keep your job!
    Keeping up appearances
    What is an apprenticeship?
    Advanced apprenticeships
    Higher apprenticeships
    Moving On
    Feeling isolated and lonely: support networks
    Independence checklist
    Legal and Other Useful Information
    Going to court: implications and support
    Being in care or being accommodated
    The Children Act 1989, The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995
    Court orders: a summary of what they mean
    Children's Guardian (previously Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Curator ad Litem (CAL) or Safeguarder)
    Parental responsibility