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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Understanding Why Children Need Foster Care


I know of at least two friends of mine that currently foster children, both with special needs, and both on the way to adoption. I'm not an expert on the topic of fostering, and must admit most of what I know about it is from what I've seen in movies or read in books. Hopefully you'll find this piece on foster care, sent to me by a reader, to be as informative as I have.


Shockingly, there are in excess of 72,000 children in England who are ‘in care’. The vast majority of these children are cared for within foster care, and are most suited to foster care placements.

What is more worrying is that the number of children in need of foster care placements has been gradually increasing in recent years. Whilst we are, as a society, opening up more placements to children, this isn’t at a fast enough rate. This is because whilst work is happening to create more foster places the rate at which places are becoming unavailable is rising even faster.


In short, there is a supply and demand problem, and unfortunately it is children who are on the wrong side of this. This isn’t just a numbers game; there are real lives of young people detrimentally impacted by the shortage of suitable places.

This becomes even more concerning when we consider why children in care need foster care.

Providing a safe home to a damaged child:
Unfortunately, a vast number of children coming in to foster care are escaping abuse or neglect. The damage that has been inflicted on them within a home environment is often therefore best healed within a loving and nurturing home environment.
These children need to know and believe that they are worthy of accepting and receiving care within a family and home setting. They need this demonstrated to them.
Foster care provides that setting where they can be safe and nurtured whilst longer term arrangements are made for their well-being. This can be therapeutic care which actively enables them to heal and develop.

Providing a nurturing home from home:
Some children come in to care because there are temporary reasons why they cannot be cared for within their birth family. There may be parental ill health or bereavement. These children need support in a family environment whilst likely still being involved with their birth families. This can be facilitated through foster care.
Sometimes this situation arises because a parent has been sent to prison. These children are often unsettled and need the stability that a foster carer can provide.

Providing specialized health care needs:
Some children come in to foster care, either temporarily or permanently, because their health needs are complex. Parents may feel unable to meet their care needs long term, or be in desperate need of some short term respite to enable them to continue their care responsibilities in the future.
Foster carers can be trained to meet specialized needs of children with complex health conditions. This enables a home-from-home environment whilst also giving the parent the break they need.

Providing specialized behavioral support:
Due to their background, some children coming in to local authority care display challenging behavior. Often, a home environment with specialist behavioral support is more appropriate for giving these children a positive future where they can thrive and begin to behave more appropriately.
Foster carers can provide the ‘round the clock’ support and consistency needed to enable troubled youngsters to thrive.

For all of the types of care listed above, a foster home is designed to offer stability and safety in a difficult situation. The care may be transitional (whilst longer term arrangements are made), or be open-ended or permanent. A family ‘home’ is the right setting for the vast majority of children.

At the heart of foster placements is a safe and nurturing environment. This cannot be replicated in other care settings to the same degree. Children need to be the center of someone’s world, and this isn’t possible at the right level within institutional care. It is possible in foster care.

It’s imperative that we meet the needs of these children. Find out more about how rewarding foster care can be.

See my disclaimer.

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