Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
In 2021, there were 80850 vulnerable children in care in England. The highest reason was child abuse and neglect; 62% of children had suffered child abuse or child neglect. 39% of these children are ten years old and above and over 20% of them are children or young people who will be in care on average for 2 years and 3 months. This figure increases by 29 days from 2020, with 53% of young people being boys and 47% being 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%, East of England is 60%, Southeast is 48%, Northeast is 71%, Northwest is 70%, and finally, 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 and Yorkshire and Humber hit the hardest. However, every area has half or more of its children in care because of abuse or neglect.
Foster carers understand children’s needs.
We know that today’s society has failed every community aspect. We have more poverty, food banks, and fewer support resources than ever before. And as a result, families are suffering, which is one of the highest reasons children are going into the care system.
Austerity and the pandemic have caused untold hardship to many families, and the need for foster carers has never been higher. However, we need foster carers that understand children’s needs and, more importantly, understand the path that has led to now.
Putting food on the tables and feeding their children is becoming harder; many parents often go without to ensure their children have enough. But, sometimes, it isn’t enough, and we don’t judge because we understand that for many families, they are not neglecting purposefully; they too are victims of a society that has lost its way. Foster carers understand that for many children, losing their family, their self-identity and being where they don’t want to be is hard for them. Indeed, it is harder for parents who don’t have the support mechanisms to help them cope. They need foster carers who are kind and compassionate, understand the importance of regular contact with family, and, more importantly, look beyond labels.
‘Challenging Behaviour’ is a label that often bears 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, for many foster carers, these children are the reason they become foster carers initially because they understand; they have skills and experience that these children and young people desperately need. Furthermore, a child who has lived a lifetime of 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 abuse becomes comfort because children know where abuse 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’; but, 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, the 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 abuse is not normal. However, the transition 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 the impact they make on these children’s lives last a lifetime.
Other children who have lived with 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 of all; 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 faced abuse and neglect don’t handle the transition well, reacting accordingly. These children ‘kick off’; because they know the reaction a ‘kick-off’ brings, and they’re 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. If they can’t find foster carers to take on older children, they will move into expensive residential children’s homes. Many of these are private providers, and the cost per week 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, older children are often charged more by Independent Foster Agencies as they say they need to pay foster carers more. The cost for this usually runs into thousands per week, and if the child has complex needs or challenging behaviour, they need more for that. 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 didn’t.
Verve CIC – recruiting foster carers who are in it for the long haul.
Verve recruits foster carers for the Not-for-Profit charitable sector; the reason we do this is 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 the Not-for-Profit Charities because of the dedicated specialists and support networks to enable children to flourish. Their foster carers and support networks work together by sharing collective experiences and skills; developing 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 came 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 we succeeded; that’s what good foster carers do.
Time is running out for older children in care- Can you foster?
Foster carers make a stark difference in the lives of children who have lived with abuse and neglect, but for older children, time is running out. Thanks to our government; 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; together 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 need to make a stark difference in young people’s lives.
Can you foster?
Table of contents
- Foster carers ‘remove labels’ and see the child.
- Foster carers help children to learn to trust again.
- Children’s Residential care is often over £2000.00 per week, per child.
- Verve CIC – recruiting foster carers who are in it for the long haul.
- Am I unsuitable for fostering because of my past?
- Time is running out for older children in care- Can you foster?