Children in our care are aged 0 to 18 and come into care for a variety of reasons. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have different needs. Sometimes they can return home quickly, for others this can take months or even years. In some cases it is not appropriate for a child to return home and so they may remain with their foster carer, move to a permanent foster carer or be adopted.
What children and young people need
All children and young people coming into care will need reassurance and support as they become familar with new people and a strange home. They will need people around them who can provide safety, security and stability and who can given them the time and understanding to find their feet and grow in confidence. For most keeping in touch with their siblings, parents and friends is important.
Chelsea (14) lived on her own with her Mum until she was ten, and had to learn to care for herself as her mother suffered from depression and often drank too much. When her Mum married her step-dad three years ago, Chelsea found this very difficult and began to spend more and more time out of the home. Her Mum had two more children and, although Chelsea loves her little brothers, she felt angry about the time and the attention they needed from her Mum and Step-Dad.
Chelsea’s older friends encouraged her to start smoking and drinking, and she regularly misses school and stays out late at night. After months of arguments, her Mum’s health has deteriorated and she has now decided that she can not cope with Chelsea’s behaviour any longer.
Chelsea needs Foster Carers who can give her some time and space away from the battles in her own family, so that work can be done to repair the relationship with her Mum and Step-Dad. She will also need to learn to accept household rules, to begin to trust adults and share her thoughts and feelings, when she feels ready to do this.
In the children you begin to see them, gradually, build trust in adults and they may not have had that before. We see an increase in their confidence. We often see much happier children and significant changes through being fostered. We hear teachers for example say that the children are just thriving in foster care.
Emma, Family Placement Team
Jade and Karl’s story
Jade (12) and Karl (10) lived with their Mum who had several partners over a number of years. After the last one left her, she went on a downward spiral, drinking to excess and neglecting the house and the children. They started missing school and when they did attend, were unkempt and hungry. The children ended up in emergency Foster Care after a drinking binge saw their Mum admitted to hospital, and there were no other relatives able to care for them. Their Mum is now making good progress, working to address her problems and it is hoped that Jade and Karl can go back home, with support from Social Workers and health professionals.
In the meantime, they are doing well in their Foster Care placement. Their Carer, Elaine takes them to see their Mum twice a week, and makes sure that all their needs are met in a safe environment until their Mum is ready to have them returned to her care. They have joined clubs in the local community and hope to continue when they go home.
Helen was born four week’s premature and spent her first few weeks in hospital withdrawing from the drugs her mother had been taking during her pregnancy.
Due to mum’s previous history the decision was taken to place a Child Protection Order at birth. Foster carers were identified for Helen and they spent time with her in hospital before taking over her full-time care.
Mum continued to have contact with her baby and as she was still breastfeeding five-day-a-week contact was continued until plans were finalised for the baby. A lot of this contact was made possible by the foster carer. Following an assessment of the mum’s ability to care for her baby the decision was taken to place Helen with adoptive parents.
Gary and Kevin’s story
Gary and Kevin were aged 4 and 6 when they were removed from the care of their parents. Their younger sister had been admitted to hospital with injuries inconsistent with the explanation given by her parents. They were placed with carers and when discharged from hospital their sister was placed with a separate set of carers. It is believed that the boys witnessed a lot of domestic violence and also the assault on their sister and were fearful of returning home. The boys developed a strong bond with their carers and the plan is that they will remain with them permanently. They continue to have monthly contact with their sister that is organised by the foster carers.
Listen to Dean tell us about the impact that his foster parent Wilma has made on his life.