Step Down foster care is a highly specialised type of foster care and one of the least known; however, it is much sought after, especially by older children and children living in residential children’s homes. Step Down foster carers help children who have lived in a residential care setting over a long period to re-adjust to living back within a family again. As the name suggests, it is a step by step process to enable this transition to be successful. More importantly, many of these children will not have lived with foster parents due to the nature of their trauma; sadly, many children need 1:1 specialist residential care. Thus, Step Down foster care is not for the faint-hearted; it is for the determined, and it is the difference that young people that are leaving care need.
Foster carers are a huge success for many children in care.
There is a huge success for children who stay with foster carers. Thus, many lives are improved because children living within a family home, no matter how long they live there, feel they belong within a family unit. And this is important. More importantly, many courts decide that some children in care will go home to stay with family under a kinship care order. Sadly, other children wait in residential children’s homes for foster homes to be placed in. However, for other children, sadly, foster homes are not an option.
Many children in care have spent a large part of their young lives in residential children’s homes; they often have little or no recollection of life anywhere else. Also, many of these children may have suffered emotional, mental, physical or sexual abuse; therefore, they have specialist 1:1 care they need. Subsequently, for many children who have suffered trauma, returning to a family home setting is a trigger of pain and trauma and thus, moving into a home setting is difficult. Step Down foster carers are skilled in supporting children through their trauma, and their experience enables them to understand children’s emotions without being judgemental.
Step Down care is the next step for many children in care.
The need to match these children with foster carers with the experience of the care they need is vital. However, sadly, there is a massive shortage of foster carers. Subsequently, many people who look into fostering ask if there is such a huge shortage, why do you turn people down? Surely, a spare bedroom is all you need?
These children need more than a spare bedroom; they need people who have the skills and experience in supporting them. Consequently, Step Down care is not for the faint-hearted, and for those who do it, it is one of the most rewarding things they will ever do.
Step Down foster carers needs to have patience, resilience and be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Children who have lived within the care homes need to adapt to living in a family home again, and sadly, this is traumatic for some children. Step Down foster carers supports children through the transition of living in residential care to living in a safe family home. More importantly, to achieve this, they have structured support with a team of professionals, taking each step, one by one and one day at a time.
The steps to Step Down foster care lead to children learning to live in a family home.
Sadly, if a Local Authority cannot find any foster homes to match children’s needs, the next step is for a child to move into residential children’s homes. After some time, the children risk becoming ‘institutionalised.’ They start to lose touch and forget the normality of home life with the family; however, for many children, family life was initially the trauma that placed them in care. Consequently, the steps to learning to live in a family home again are complex; thus, Step Down foster care is the next step to help children in care return to a life away from the institution of residential children’s homes.
Step Down Foster Care is not a quick fix solution.
I have many friends and colleagues who work within residential children’s homes, and many are now foster carers. For them, the motivation to becoming a foster carer was to give 1:1 professional care to a child; 24/7 in their home with consistency from a person they have grown to trust. They do it because they know it will make a massive difference to that child’s life. At the end of their shift, these people know they get to go home to their family. However, the children they leave behind can’t do that, and many times they sit, exhausted after a 12-hour shift in their cars and cry. The tears are not for themselves; these are tears of sheer frustration for the children they leave behind and the worry they have for their future.
It is important to create positive relationships and develop trust with children.
Professionals in care know that it is vital to create positive relationships and build trust with them. Sadly, children in care often see a high turnover of staff and witness new faces coming and going all the time; it is another new face to get used to when they awake. Inconsistency of care makes it hard for children to form positive relationships, and if they do, the repeated trauma that children feel when, once more, the person they have learned to trust leaves them. Subsequently, the pattern repeats itself, and children are left feeling abandoned.
Sadly, children lose faith and often become de-sensitised to their feelings. After all, they know that many staff don’t want to be there; it is just a job. Thankfully, for others, looking after children in residential children’s homes is much more than a job; it is a vocation.
Step Down care gives young people the support needed for a safer future.
Step Down foster carers helps young people adjust to life outside of the care system. Without them and support from external providers like Social Services, what will happen to them if they have no life skills or experience living anywhere except an institution? How do they make that transition to living a successful and Independent life with no support? The answer is, they can’t; they need help.
High-quality foster care transforms lives for children and young people; subsequently, high-quality support for foster carers from the Charity they represent is the difference between success or failure. The two go hand in hand; because, with the best intentions in the world, if foster carers are not supported, this transition to independence will fail. Sadly, failure means that young people will fail once more; let’s face it, many young people expect nothing less after a lifetime of being let down.
Getting a grip on our teenagers and bringing them back home.
Recent changes in Government policies state that any young person aged 16+ cannot live in unregulated homes, such as B&B’s and hotels, which is as it should be. Sadly, they will no longer receive ‘care’; I’m afraid that’s not right. Transitioning from care is probably the most critical part of a young person’s life so far; it is why I campaign to find foster carers willing to take a chance on our teenagers and bring them back in our homes where they belong.
Many former foster children know only too well how their former foster parents enriched their lives and, consequently, their future. They know their fate determined by the people who, thankfully, took a chance on them; God only knows what would have happened if they hadn’t found them.
Step Down Foster carers makes a considerable difference to the lives of vulnerable young people. Therefore, it is crucial to get this care right; because we have got it wrong for too long. I don’t usually comment about politics, but on this occasion, I’m going to because financially, our Local Authorities struggle. On average, it costs £3970.00 per week for a child placed in a home with an external provider.
The weekly cost for children in residential care has increased by over 40%…
‘The weekly cost of placements at independent children’s homes has increased by 40 per cent in the past six years, indicating “limited impact of local authority commissioning.’
We all know that there is big money made in children’s support and provisions within the Independent sector. I have worked there, I know. I also know that many people within this sector have dedicated themselves to supporting these young people and giving them the best care always, regardless of who pays their wages. However, if we pay vast fees to corporate businesses for children in care, why can’t these businesses put a little bit of money aside for the young person’s future after leaving them? After all, many children have lived in their residential children’s homes for long periods; surely there’s something left in the pot to secure a safe future for the child when they have left at 16?
Verve Recruitment recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit sectors. We do this because we endorse the outstanding support they give to families and vulnerable people in our communities. Sadly, for children who have lived in children’s residential care homes for a long time, the transition to everyday life is hard. However, together we can make this transition easier. Step Down foster care gives young people the support they need now; ultimately, this support will determine the path they take for the rest of their lives.
Find out more about Step Down foster care…
Step Down foster care is challenging but very rewarding. You will need dedication and a firm commitment to supporting a young person who is most vulnerable. The Not for Profit charities we represent gives you outstanding support to help you make a positive difference in a young person’s future.
If you would like to find out more about Step Down foster care and the charities we work with, please contact us on the form below, and we will get straight back to you. There is no cost and no commitment, just honest advice on the fostering role with a not-for-profit charity that gives vulnerable young people the chances in life they deserve. Can you foster?