Child abuse and neglect are the main cause of children being in care. 39% of these children are ten years old, and the North-West and East are the worst affected areas
.In 2021, there were 80,850 vulnerable children in care in England. The highest reason for children being in care was child abuse and neglect. 62% of children had suffered child abuse or neglect. 39% of these children are ten years old and above, and over 20% are children who will be in care for an average of 2 years and 3 months. This figure increases by 29 days from 2020, with 53% of young people being boys and 47% girls. Unfortunately, they are also the most challenging age range for children to place with foster carers.
Child abuse and neglect are the highest reason for children in care in every region. The East Midlands is 62%, West Midlands is 64%, the East of England is 60%, the Southeast is 48%, the Northeast is 71%, the Northwest is 70%, and the Southwest has 63%. Yorkshire & Humber has 80% of its children in care due to abuse or neglect.
There appears to be a huge divide, as the Northwest, Northeast, Yorkshire, and Humber hit the hardest. However, every area has half or more children in care due to abuse or neglect.
Child abuse and neglect mean more children are entering the care system.
We know that today’s society has failed in every community aspect. We have more poverty, food banks, and fewer support resources than ever. And as a result, families are suffering, and more children are going into the care system.
Austerity and the pandemic have caused untold hardship to many families. Sadly, this means the need for foster carers who understand children’s needs and, more importantly, the path they have travelled has never been higher.
Today, simple things, like putting food on a table to feed your children, are a struggle. Money is tight, and many parents often forego food for their children to eat. As a society, austerity taught us not to judge. We understand that families do not purposefully neglect children because we are in this too. We can see that many families at work don’t have enough money to get by. They are victims of a society that has lost its way.
Fostering children from families with no choice but to place their children in care because they can’t afford to look after them is heartbreaking. We recognise the importance of families who retain their identity in communities where they are loved. However, they can’t cope. Especially families with little or no support. Foster carers need to understand that children in care have families who love them and they want to be together. Sadly, as a society, we have let them down.
‘Challenging behaviour is a label that may have no reflection on the child or their life.
Sadly, older children can be labelled as ‘children who may display challenging behaviour.’ They may have complex needs, behavioural issues, mental health problems, and learning difficulties; as a result, these children are harder to place with foster carers with experience in caring for them. But many foster carers initially become foster carers because they understand; they have the skills and experience that these children and young people desperately need. Sadly, a child with a lifetime of child abuse and neglect has another challenge, a label. ‘Challenging Behaviour’ is a label that often bears no reflection on the child or their life.
Foster carers ‘remove labels’ and see the child.
Removing labels and learning to trust are difficult for children who have lived with abuse. For many children, a life of abuse is the only life they know. It is a life where child abuse becomes comfortable because children know where it leads and what happens next. Perversely, abuse makes them feel safe. And for many abusers, this is the silent power they wield over children. Many children create barriers to protect themselves; however, these barriers are ‘challenging behaviour’; for these children, this behaviour is the only way they know how to survive.
The biggest fear, for many of us, is often a fear of the unknown; being with people we don’t know, and subsequently, we keep going back to the bad, even though we know it’s bad, but it’s better because we know what we’re getting. Sadly, child abuse becomes normal for children who have lived with abuse, which is their comfort blanket; their abusers are part of everyday life. Therefore, abuse becomes normal.
Foster carers help children to learn to trust again.
A life without child abuse for some children is not a normal life. However, transitioning to a life without abuse is often traumatic, leading to challenging behaviour. It’s often referred to as a ‘kick-off.’ Children who have faced trauma react in the only way they know; they kick off until they meet people who understand and show them that there is another way. These people are amazing, and their impact on these children’s lives lasts a lifetime.
Other children who have lived with child abuse and neglect tend not to expect much; they become conditioned to expect nothing, so they don’t ask. Being left alone is enough; they form friendships with those they trust.
Kindness is often met with suspicion, and teaching children to trust and be children is the most challenging job; these foster carers make a significant impact because when a child learns to trust and love, they become children, as they should be.
As a result, many children who have lived with child abuse and neglect don’t handle the transition well, reacting accordingly. These children ‘kick off’; they know the reaction a ‘kick-off’ brings and are ready for it. Other children, however, respond to change differently. These children have had enough and embrace the new normal with a passion they have never felt before; for them, foster care is the difference they welcome and need.
Children’s Residential care is often over £2000.00 per week per child.
When you look at the stats above, you realise the enormity of the problem that Local Authorities and not-for-profit charities face. They will move into expensive residential children’s homes if they can’t find foster carers to take on older children. Many are private providers, and the weekly cost is often in the thousands. As we see, the average length of time children is in care is two years, three months and growing; this is a costly problem that puts profits in the hands of private businesses; subsequently, it leaves a vast cash deficit for other support networks.
Also, Independent Foster Agencies often charge older children more as they say they need to pay foster carers more. The cost for this usually runs into thousands per week; if the child has complex needs or challenging behaviour, they need more. Sadly, the local authorities are being held over a barrel here.
Foster carers understand the barriers children create to protect themselves.
Some agencies tell foster carers that older vulnerable children and teenagers might have ‘challenging behaviour’; thus, they become harder to place with foster carers. Thankfully, foster carers who foster teenagers know what they are doing and why they do it. They have the experience of seeing the barriers children put in place; they also have the wisdom and compassion to understand why they initially created them.
Foster carers understand the path children living with abuse and neglect have led; they also know the barriers children create are their protectors. As a result, children feel vulnerable without them.
These children and young people need foster carers to help them learn to trust again and react positively to consistent kindness, understanding and patience. These are the traits of peers that guide vulnerable children; Most importantly, they reduce the influence of those who don’t.
Verve – recruiting foster carers to support children who lived with child abuse and neglect.
Verve recruits foster carers for the Not-for-Profit charitable sector; we do this two-fold. Firstly, we know that children who have experienced abuse and neglect need consistent support to overcome barriers. Secondly, they need foster carers motivated by love and compassion, with experience in giving children the constant support they need. More importantly, they need foster carers who are in it for the long haul.
Finally, Verve CIC does not believe in large corporate organisations making huge profits from vulnerable children. Our priority is to match foster carers with skills and experience to meet the needs of children, and to do this; we match you with a Not-for-Profit Charity, which we feel reflects you.
We support Not-for-Profit Charities because of the dedicated specialists and support networks to enable children to flourish. Their foster carers and support networks share collective experiences and skills and develop therapeutic care strategies to help children overcome their barriers. Furthermore, Not for Profit charities and agencies invest every penny back into the support services that vulnerable children need; they don’t invest some of it; they invest all of it.
Am I unsuitable for fostering because of my past?
Often, the main fear of people who want to foster is the fear of rejection; something in our past will label them ‘unsuitable.’ The demeanours of our past are beyond our control, but our past doesn’t define us. It shapes us and moulds us to become the people we want to be, and it doesn’t matter where we come from, for every experience in life reflects who we are. Foster carers do not need to hold a degree in specialist subjects. They need to understand children and have a solid knowledge of life skills to help prepare children and young people to cope with life today.
Every one of us, at some point, had someone take a chance on us. It may have been a neighbour, a teacher, a family member, or someone who saw something in us and knew we could do things differently with guidance. Often, we were struggling and didn’t know it; but they did, and they had the wisdom to help us. Thanks to them, we started to do things differently and succeeded; that’s what good foster carers do.
We need foster carers for older children.
Foster carers make a stark difference in the lives of children with abuse and neglect, but for older children, time is running out. Thanks to our government, the new legislation states that young people aged sixteen and above and not in foster care no longer receive social care support. They have accommodation that is unsuitable and unsafe, and as a result, they are more vulnerable than they have ever been.
Verve CIC recruits foster carers to support older children and young people as they transition into independent living. However, life today for young people is even more challenging without strong peer role models to guide them. We need foster carers to guide young people and steer them to a better future. If you have the skills and experience to make a difference in a young person’s life, with determination and a genuine desire to help them, please get in touch today.
There is no cost or commitment, just honest advice on the fostering role and the needs of young people in your community. Together, we must make a stark difference in young people’s lives.