Child abuse is the highest reason for vulnerable children in care, with 39% being aged 10 years and above. These older children may often have the label of children who ‘may display challenging behaviour;’ therefore, these children are unlikely to find foster carers willing to take them.
Sadly, these older children and young people may have lived with a lifetime of abuse and neglect. Now they face another challenge; the label ‘Challenging Behaviour’ is a title that bears no reflection on the child or the life they may have led.
80,080 children were in Local Authority care (2018-2019)
‘There were over 80,080 vulnerable children in England’s care system during 2018-2019; the highest reason for vulnerable children being in care is child abuse and neglect. 39% of those children were aged 10-15 years, and the average length of time children was in care was two years and three months. Sadly, this is an additional 29 days from the previous year. The general characteristics of CLA ( Children Looked After) are similar to last year. 56% are male, 39% are aged 10-15 years, and 74% are of white ethnic origin.’https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoptions/2020
Removing ‘labels’ and restoring trust.
Removing labels and learning to trust is 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.
The highest fear for children is often a fear of the unknown, with people they don’t know because children who live with abuse, their abusers become their friends. Their friend is their comfort blanket and their abusers are part of everyday life; sadly, abuse becomes normal.
Children who have lived with abuse tend not to expect much; they become conditioned to expect nothing, and therefore, they don’t ask. For these children, being left alone is enough. Sadly, a life without abuse is not normal and therefore, for these children, the transition to a life without abuse is often traumatic.
As a result, many children don’t handle the transition well, and they react accordingly. These children kick-off, because they know the reaction it brings, and they’re ready for it.
Some children, however, respond to change differently. These children have had enough, and they embrace the new normal with a passion they have never felt before.
Verve Ambassador, Bronagh Howell…
Verve Ambassador Bronagh Howell knows ‘labelling’ well. Bronagh was 14, and Social Services took her siblings in care because of the abuse they had from her mother. However; Social workers always left her behind.
Bronagh found out later in life the reasoning for this, Bronagh’s’label’ was because she was a good girl; she didn’t kick-off. Therefore, Social workers didn’t need to do anything with her.
Eventually, she had enough and placed herself in care. Bronagh knew the clock was ticking on her growing up; therefore, as the clock ticked louder, she became even more vulnerable. This risk was a risk she couldn’t take; Bronagh knew full well where that path would lead her.
Recruiting foster carers to support older vulnerable children is hard.
Some agencies say to foster carers that older vulnerable children and teenagers might have ‘challenging behaviour’; thus, this bias makes it harder to place older children in foster homes.
Thankfully, the foster carers who foster teenagers know what they are doing and why they do it. They have the experience to see the barriers children have put in place; they also have the wisdom and compassion to understand why children created the barriers.
These foster carers know the path children living with abuse have led. Subsequently, these barriers are now children’s protectors; thus, children can feel vulnerable when these barriers are removed.
I once read that abused children are often likely to become abusers themselves. I’m afraid I disagree with this theory; if anything, these children have a valuable empathy for children; their life experiences can’t be found on Social Media or read from a book.
These children and young people need foster carers who will teach them to trust again and react to consistent kindness, understanding and patience. These traits are the traits of peers that guide vulnerable children. Most importantly of all, they reduce the influence of those that didn’t…
Verve; recruiting foster carers for Not for Profits.
Verve recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit charitable sector; the reason why we do this is two-fold. Firstly, we know that all children in care need support to overcome barriers and heal the pain they may have suffered from their abusive childhoods.
Secondly, these children need foster carers who have a strong motivation to foster, experience caring for vulnerable children, and more importantly, they are in it for the long haul.
When blended, your experience and care as a foster carer and the outstanding and specialist support Not for Profit fostering charities give; subsequently, it becomes the difference that vulnerable children need to thrive.
Helping abused children to overcome barriers.
The dedicated care of foster carers and skilled specialist teams together enable children to flourish. Foster carers and support networks work together, sharing experiences and skills, creating therapeutic care strategies to help children overcome their barriers. And this is where Not for Profit charities and agencies excel, and every penny they make goes back into the support services that vulnerable children need.
‘I love the vocation that I am doing. I feel fortunate and proud to make a difference to a young person’s life by knowing it will be with them and carry them throughout adulthood.’Therapeutic foster carer.
Your motivation for fostering is unique.
Charities will connect you to existing foster carers to give you clarity about fostering.
Often, the main fear of people who want to foster is the fear of rejection; maybe something in our past will label them ‘unsuitable’?
The demeanours of our past are beyond our control; however, our past doesn’t define us. It shapes us and moulds us to become the people we want to be. However, we can only do this if we get the opportunity?
If someone takes a chance on us when we get it wrong, we can overcome trauma and face challenges, either by the tenacity of our spirit or through the kindness of the people guiding us.
Taking chances in life…
Every one of us, at some point, has had someone take a chance on us. Often, we are unaware of the risk they took because we don’t know the full extent of what they knew. Therefore, this ignorance meant we never felt judged.
However, every facet of their life is open and shared and subsequently judged for children in care, often with prejudice. These children need people to take a chance on them and give them the opportunities in life they deserve, without discrimination.
Because, when we get this right, as Bronagh and many other children in care know, it goes great. However, when we get it wrong, it is catastrophic, and for older children in care, time is running out; it is often the last chance they have to get it right. Can you foster an older child in care and be the difference they need now?
If you have skills in caring for older children and will provide moral and compassionate support, please get in touch. We will connect you with a Not for Profit charity that will support you to give young people in care chances and opportunities for a brighter future.
‘Together, we will make a difference in vulnerable children’s lives.’