Foster care, many in wider society still think of a being just about ‘heads on beds’. Nothing could be further from the truth because more and more Children are coming into care with complex needs. Care settings can generally be split into two main categories: family-based Foster care and residential care. Family care will involve arrangements for children to live with unrelated foster parents; related (kinship parents or foster to adopt.
In recent years there has been a trend necessitating the recruitment into fostering of people willing and able to provide more specialist therapeutic care. Foster Carers skilled in this form of care are required to support children who display various forms of trauma. This is has been brought about by their experiences prior to coming into the care of a local authority. In the worst cases, the effects can be particularly severe. The needs of such children cannot easily be met in more regular foster care settings. Independent fostering agencies have for some time been augmenting their provision to offer therapeutic settings. In certain cases, this will include providing clinical interventions to support the most challenging of placements. But notwithstanding all the support made available, some children and young people will be looked after in a residential care setting.
Fostering and residential care – how they differ.
Residential care comprises homes supervised by full-time staff. They are most usually large houses where children and young pole live together as a group. The aim of children’s homes is to accommodate children who can’t live with their birth families or foster carers. They have access to professional care to meet their needs. As well as offering food and shelter they are places where children can grow and develop. All providers and managers of children’s homes are required to register with Ofsted. Children’s homes vary – the following are some examples of those that must register:
- homes for disabled children and young people, including those who have physical and learning disabilities;
- homes for children who are looked after by a local authority – either as a short-term measure or on a more long term basis; •
- homes for children and young people who suffer from a mental health condition; • homes for children and young people experiencing emotional and/or behavioural difficulties;
- homes for children and young people who have a drug and/or alcohol addiction; • Residential secure children’s homes for children who have committed an offence or need the extra protection these homes give to secure their welfare (these are also registered as children’s homes and are approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of restricting the liberty of children and young people);
- flats or houses that have been designed and adapted specifically to provide care and accommodation for a particular child or young person, where the child or young person’s care plan indicates that this is a permanent arrangement;
- homes that will provide care along with accommodation for children aged 16 years and over in order to help them prepare them for independent living – these homes must register as children’s homes;
- residential schools that are able to offer accommodation for children and young people who are not pupils of the school;
- young people who are ageing out of care and in transition must have a regularly updated and reviewed moving-on plan and care plan – including a transition plan if the young person is going to need support from adult social care.
In some cases, children who have been in foster care but experienced multiple placement breakdowns will benefit from the stability a residential setting can offer. By the time that this stage has been reached, the experience of a child or young person will clearly have been impacted negatively. The main effort for all fostering service providers is to make available foster carer settings that do not break down. This has serious implications for both the training and support of new applicants as well as existing foster carers. This is an ongoing challenge for providers given the well-documented shortage of foster parents. Foster caregiving is a demanding and challenging task that can take an emotional toll on carers. They are expected to function as parents on what can be perceived as a temporary basis by an insecure child. They have to parent children, many of whom have histories of disrupted relationships flowing from trauma. Such children are likely to have deficits across multiple areas of functioning. Whilst dealing with these exigencies, carers are expected to cope with agency specified responsibilities whilst working toward the implementation of a plan that they do not have sole control over. In the past, this has resulted in role confusion as well as foster carers having unrealistic expectations. Burn out and frustration have been predictors of carers deregistering. In most cases, a child will tend to do better in a foster care setting as it is a family environment.
There is much evidence to suggest increased training and support contribute significantly to foster carer retention and satisfaction, whilst concomitantly reducing problems of child behaviour. Moving forward, it will be necessary to recruit more people motivated to foster therapeutically.
Could you become a therapeutic foster carer?
Rainbow fostering are committed to making therapeutic fostering available to all children who need this form of support brought about by ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). Our training used the Secure Base Model and is highly effective in helping to deliver life-changing outcomes for our foster children. It is a sad fact that many children coming into care have had damaging starts in life. ACEs can include abuse and neglect giving rise to trauma. There is research showing ACEs can bring about health and social problems in adulthood. These can be alcohol and/or drug addiction as well as criminal behaviour. As an agency we are constantly alert to ACEs as having a detailed understanding of each case underpins the effectiveness of our matching process.
Call us today on 0330 311 2845 today to train to be a foster carer. We are now entering our third decade and continue to pride ourselves on the high-quality support offered our foster carers. Rainbow works alongside local authorities across London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire providing sensitively-matched placements.
Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. We have now streamlined our application process to continue recruiting new foster carers through the lockdown. Our initial ‘home visits’ are held over Skype – easy to set up in a matter of minutes. One of our friendly team members will guide you.
Streamlined recruitment process.
You can be Approved to foster within 16 – 18 weeks. Fostering is open to people who are (over 21) married, divorced, single or cohabiting. You can provide foster care whatever your sexual orientation, ethnicity or cultural background. There is no upper age limit to being a foster carer. Our children need warm, welcoming, nurturing and supportive foster homes – perhaps you could provide one!
Today we recommend a blog looking into therapeutic fostering:
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Rainbow putting the focus on fostering.
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