Foster carers needed for children with complex needs
Around seven out of 10 looked after children have a special educational needs compared with almost two in 10 of all children. Thats why this Foster Care Fortnight many fostering services are asking people with the skills and willingness to support a child with special educational needs to consider becoming a foster carer. It is vital that a child going in to foster care is correctly matched with a suitable foster family, so having a range of families with diverse experience and skills is becoming ever more important. Without this, relationships can become strained causing placements to break down, meaning children are moved and that they suffer even more disruption to their often already traumatic lives. A well matched fostering placement can see a child live and thrive with one foster carer over many years. One of the main challenges in recruitment of foster carers is finding those who have the skills to specializes in fostering children with ever more complex needs. Those with a background in this area are key to making sure that our most vulnerable children have a home where they can develop with people who are ambitious for them. A wider pool of foster carers with the right skills and qualities would make it more likely that the right homes can be found for children first time, giving them the best chance of a happy childhood and a successful future.
Many foster carers who look after children and young people with special educational needs already had a background of working in this field. For example, Bernadette, a foster carer for almost a decade was the additional needs co-ordinator at a large college: “I worked with lots of young people with special needs who were fostered and who didn’t have good placements or were moving out and it made me think I could become a foster carer.” Other foster carers, like Cheryl and Steve Walker, have experience of looking after their birth children who have special educational needs, and this is what motivates them to explore their own connections to fostering: ‘I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome so we thought we might have what it takes to look after another child with special needs. We told fostering services that we’d love to have a special needs child as that’s where our skills lie, and we bought a bigger house in readiness to foster. We came into fostering to give a child a normal family life. Whatever normal is! We’ve worked hard for seven years with our little whirlwind now, and love him like he’s our own. We’ve had other children placed with us over the years, all unique in their own way.