Caitlin Marshall went into care at the age of 14. She is now backing a campaign to encourage more people to foster teenagers.
A student and her foster carer have appeared in a video aimed at finding more foster families for local teenagers.
Caitlin Marshall, 17, and Viv Senior are amongst other teenagers and foster carers who have appeared in the ‘Foster Me’ video as part of a joint Kirklees Council and Leeds City Council campaign.
Both locally and nationally there is a chronic shortage of foster families for teenagers and they remain one of the hardest groups to find families for. In the last six months alone Kirklees has seen 26 new cases of teenagers entering its care system and the local authority estimates that it will need to recruit at least 30 new foster carers over the next 12 months to meet the demand.
Caitlin spent much of her childhood in Dewsbury and Mirfield before being taken into care at the age of 14. After a number of short-term placements she went to live with Viv and Martin Senior last October.
“For me going into care was inevitable,” explains Caitlin. “Visits from social services had practically become a way of life so I knew it was on the cards. But when the day finally came it was a shock and for a long time after I kept having to ask myself, “is this real?
“I think in some respects that being taken into care as an older child was worse than if I was younger; I knew exactly what was happening and why. I remember everything about it. I knew things were difficult at home yet somehow I believed I’d be going back. The realisation that I couldn’t go back was something I had to come to terms with and there were many emotions running though my head.
“Before Viv and Martin I lived with five other foster families. Some worked out better than others and they were all short term. I knew pretty much straight away that I wanted to stay with Viv and Martin and now I feel a lot happier knowing I can do so until I’m ready to live on my own.”
Since being in care Caitlin has gone from strength to strength. She received a distinction for Health and Social Care at school and is now at Kirklees College in Huddersfield studying for a B-tech in the same subject. She one day hopes to pursue a career within the mental health sector. Caitlin has also been involved in an organisation for cared-for children in Kirklees, called the Children in Care Council. It gives children like Caitlin a voice about issues within the care system and she recently took part in a consultation at Westminster.
Caitlin’s foster carers, Viv and Martin Senior from Leeds, have fostered via Kirklees Council for the past three-and-a-half years and have looked after 16 older children on a long and short term basis, including respite and emergency cover.
For more information and to see the video visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/fosterme.