Child abuse is the highest reason for vulnerable children in care, with 39% being aged 10 years and above.
This age of a child is also the hardest age to recruit foster carers, and sadly, it is also the age that children need foster carers and safe and loving homes, now, more than ever before.
New figures for 2018-2019 shows that Child abuse is the highest reason for vulnerable children in care. Older children may often have the label as children who may display challenging behaviour; thus, they are less likely to be placed in foster homes.
These children and young people may have lived with a lifetime of abuse and neglect; subsequently, they now face another challenge; the challenge of a label.
‘Challenging Behaviour’, 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.
The abuse becomes comfort; 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; abusers are their everyday life, and consequently, 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 much.
Being left alone is enough for them as, sadly, a life without abuse is not normal; so, the transition to a life without abuse is hard.
As a result, vulnerable children can’t handle the transition and react accordingly; they kick off because these children 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.
I know some agencies say to foster carers that older vulnerable children and teenagers might have ‘challenging behaviour’; thus, this bias will make it difficult to place older children in foster homes.
Thankfully, foster carers who support older children know exactly what they are doing and why they do it.
Their experience enables them to recognise the barriers that children have put in place because these foster carers have wisdom and compassion. Also, they know the path many children living with abuse have gone down; subsequently, barriers are protectors, and if lost, children will feel vulnerable.
I once read that children who have suffered child abuse are the highest reason for them becoming abusers themselves. I’m afraid I have to 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.
Children and young people who live with abuse react over time to people who give them consistent kindness, understanding and patience. These traits are the traits of peers who guide children when they need it most.
Most importantly of all, they reduce the influence of those that didn’t…
Verve; recruiting foster carers to support abused children.
Verve recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit charitable sector; the reason why we do this is two-fold.
Firstly, we believe that all children in care need support to overcome barriers and heal the pain they may have suffered from abusive childhoods. Secondly, new foster carers need a strong motivation to foster and have experience caring for vulnerable children.
Consequently, your expertise and the additional specialist support from charities and agencies are the difference that children in care need to thrive.
Helping abused children to overcome barriers.
The dedicated care of foster carers and skilled specialist teams who care for them enable children to flourish.
And this is where Not for Profit charities and agencies excel; every penny they make goes back into the support services that vulnerable children need. Foster carers and support networks work together, sharing experiences and skills, creating therapeutic care strategies to help children overcome their barriers.
The joy foster carers have as they witness young people flourish immeasurable; they are proud of these children’s achievements.
‘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.
Whatever the motivation to foster is, the reality is that until we fully understand the fostering role, we don’t know if it is right for us? This understanding is why charities link you to existing foster carers to mentor and share the fostering reality.
Without this clarity, you can’t decide if fostering is right for you. The main fear of enquiring is often the fear of rejection; maybe we will be labelled ‘unsuitable’?
The past is beyond our control. We overcome trauma and face challenges in our lives, either by the tenacity of spirit or others’ kindness that guide us.
The past doesn’t define us; it shapes us and then moulds us into the people we want to be; however, we only do this if we get the opportunity?
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 take because we don’t know the full extent of what they know and therefore, we don’t feel judged.
However, for children who have lived with abuse, every facet of their life is open and shared and subsequently judged, often with prejudice.
These children need people to take a chance on them and give them opportunities in life they deserve, without discrimination.
When we get this right, as Bronagh and many other young people who have been in care know, it goes great.
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 will 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 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.’