Step Down foster care is a highly specialised type of foster care and perhaps, one of the least known. However, it is highly sought after and needed, especially by 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 make this transition successful.
Many of these children will not have lived with foster parents because of their trauma; sadly, these children need 1:1 specialist care in a Children’s residential home. Subsequently, these children will find it hard to adapt to everyday family life again.
Step Down foster care is not for the faint-hearted; however, it is for the determined, and it is the difference that young people in residential care need.
Foster carers are a huge success for many children in care.
There is a huge success for children who live with foster carers and children living in a family home because these children and young people develop a sense of belonging, something they may not have had for a long time.
Family Courts may decide that children will live within their family unit under kinship care orders. In contrast, sadly, others live in residential children’s homes until Social services can find foster carers for them. But, there are many other children where foster care is not an option for them. These children need specialist 1:1 care, and there are not enough foster carers with the therapeutic care skills these children need.
Once children live in residential settings, it may be a long wait for them to live elsewhere. Many of these children spend years in children’s homes, they know of no other life, and subsequently, they become institutionalised.
Also, many children may have previously suffered from emotional, mental, physical or sexual abuse; sadly, for these children, going back to a family home setting is a trigger to their pain and trauma and therefore, adapting to this move is challenging for them.
Step Down foster carers are trained to support children through their trauma; their training coinciding with their experience of caring for children helps them understand children and remain non-judgemental.
Step Down care is the next step for many children in care.
The need to match these children with experienced foster carers is crucial; however, sadly, there is a massive shortage of foster carers.
Many people are looking into fostering and ask, ‘why do you turn people down if there is a vast shortage? Surely, a spare bedroom is all you need?’
These children don’t need a spare bedroom; they need people with the skills and experience in supporting them because Step Down care is not for the faint-hearted, and for those who do it, it is one of the most rewarding things they have ever done.
Step Down foster carers supports children through the transition from living in residential care to living in a safe family home. However, to get this right, you will need structured support with a team of professionals, helping children take 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, when the Local Authorities cannot find foster homes to match a child’s needs, the child moves into residential children’s homes; after time, these children risk becoming ‘institutionalised.’
Children begin to forget the normality of home life within a family; however, family life may be the initial trauma that placed these children in care. Consequently, the steps to learning to live in a family home again are complex.
Step Down foster care is the pathway to help children in care move from a life away from the institution of residential children’s homes and learning to adapt to life in a safe family setting.
Step Down Foster Care is not a quick fix solution.
I have many friends, and colleagues working in residential children’s homes, and many of them are now foster carers. For them, the motivation to fostering was they knew that if they gave a child the 1:1 professional care they have in a residential setting, 24/7 in their home, with a person, the child has learned to trust; this will make a massive difference to a child’s life.
These foster carers and many people who work in residential care settings know that they can go home to their families at the end of their shift, but the children they leave behind can’t. Subsequently, many caring people will often 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.
And, for them, this is the motivation for becoming a Step-Down foster carer because they know that if children don’t have this support, they will become very vulnerable.
It is important to create positive relationships and develop trust with children.
Foster carers know how important it is to have positive relationships, and building trust with children is not easy and takes time. Sadly, children in care get used to a high staff turnover; they see new faces coming and going all the time; and for them, it is another new face to get used to.
This inconsistency of care makes it difficult for children to form positive relationships, and when they do, the trauma that children feel when, once more, the person they have learned to trust leaves them grows stronger. Subsequently, the pattern repeats itself endlessly, and children are left feeling abandoned.
Sadly, children lose faith; they become de-sensitised to their feelings because they feel that the staff doesn’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, I dread to think what will happen to a child with no life skills or experience living anywhere except an institution.
How can children and young people make the transition to a successful and Independent life with no support? The answer is, they can’t; they need help. And this help is needed now, more than ever before, as new Government laws have come in that state young people aged 16 will no longer have support; these young people are vulnerable.
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, the transition to independence fails if foster carers are not supported. Sadly, failure means that young people will fall once more because, 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 into 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 that fate determines by the influence of 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 make a huge difference in the lives of vulnerable young people, and it is crucial to get this care right; because we have got it wrong for far 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 know that huge profits are being made from Children’s residential care homes and the Independent fostering sector; I have worked there, and I know.
I also know that many people within this sector dedicate themselves to supporting young people and giving them the best care 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 money aside for the young person’s future after leaving them?
After all, many children have lived in their residential children’s homes for extended 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 Fostering Charities. We do this because we endorse outstanding support to families and vulnerable people in our communities.
Sadly, the transition to everyday life is hard for children who have lived in children’s residential care homes for a long time. But, together, we can make the transition easier.
Step Down foster care gives young people the support they need now; ultimately, this support determines 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, don’t hesitate to get in touch with 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 fostering charity that gives vulnerable young people the chances in life they deserve. Can you foster?