Cover image of Step Down foster care shows image of a boys legs walking down some steps.

Step Down Foster Care is the transition to family life.

Step Down foster carers help children who have lived in residential care homes for long periods to re-adjust to life within a home setting. As the name suggests, Step Down foster care is a step-by-step process to transition a child into adjusting to life in a family home once more.

Many children, especially those who have suffered severe trauma, are labelled unsuitable for foster care. The trauma they suffer is too deep. These children need specialist 1:1 care, usually in a residential care home where they have access to vital support networks these children need. Sadly, this care is expensive, and cutbacks and austerity have closed many of these facilities. As a result, children in residential care settings do not have the individual 24/7 care they need.

Many Step Down foster carers were once former residential care workers.

The support they have is a balance of love and dedication from residential care workers who understand. Thankfully, we have wonderful foster carers who are former residential care workers who understand. Their experience of caring for vulnerable children and adults who have faced trauma is vast; they have the experience and skills which meet these children’s needs. They are determined because they know Step Down foster care is not for the faint-hearted but for the determined. Sadly, these foster carers know, without support, children, as they age, will become very vulnerable.

Step Down foster care is a highly specialised type of care.

Step Down foster care is a highly specialised type of foster care that requires specific skills and experiences to meet children’s needs as they transition into independence. Children who have lived in residential children’s homes, especially over long periods, become institutionalised. As a result, transitioning to a life in a family home will take time, patience, skilled love and experience and dedication on both parts.

Thankfully, with time, Step Down foster care is the difference children need, and they settle over time. With skilled care and genuine love for children, Step Down foster carers help young people form the foundations of a family life built on a sense of belonging and trust.

Step Down foster carers help make bonds of attachment develop.

Step Down foster care aims to enable relationships and bonds of attachment to grow slowly over periods and relationships that children depend on, many for the first time, flourish. These children and young people are lucky; sadly, many others are not as fortunate.

Children in care need to be with foster carers who can meet their individual needs. This care is a priority. And, in a perfect world, children in care will move in with existing families, like grandparents or family with whom they already have a bond of attachment and are loved. But we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a world far from perfect. And sadly, children and young people are victims of this imperfection.

Many children go into emergency care foster care homes for short periods as decisions are made about their future. In a perfect world, children will live with families and remain in the communities they belong and are loved. This scenario is the perfect world scenario.

Children are reunited with families in a perfect world, but we don’t live in a perfect world!

In a perfect world, families who were once vulnerable get additional support with a focus. As a result, families reunite.

But, for many children, foster care is not an option. They are there for their safety and protection. Sadly, some children are in care because they have lived with abuse. As a result, their trauma is deep. These children need specialist 1:1 care with skilled professionals to meet their needs.

As we have said, we don’t live in a perfect world. Sadly, children with trauma and abuse move into residential homes described as ‘meeting children’s needs.’

However, this is often not the case. Sadly, cracks show as support networks aimed at ‘meeting children’s needs,’ fail.

Young girl crouched on a floor . The text reads, what lies beyond the label?

‘Can you imagine the difference we could make as Step Down foster carers?’

Residential care workers often make fantastic foster carers. I recruited one lady recently, and she told me, ‘I knew the difference I made on my shift as a children’s residential care worker. But a lack of consistency in the work style is why the good work I achieved with children on my shift is lost.’ This was because other staff members had different styles; some involved children, and others didn’t.

It’s frustrating, and I found myself thinking, ‘can you imagine the difference I could make to this child’s life if they lived with me 24/7?’

‘Can you imagine the difference these children and young people would feel if they moved into a family home with someone they already know and trust? Can you imagine the difference someone who has lived experience in care to meet every child’s needs, 24/7 in a family home, would make?’ ‘ More importantly, can you imagine the difference Step Down foster care would make to children’s lives and mine?’

At the end of a 12-hour shift, I sit in my car and weep.

She said, ‘we often sit in our cars and weep at the end of a 12-hour shift.’ ‘It’s hard; we get to go home, but the children we care for don’t. They don’t have a safe home life, and how can they learn about a safe family home life in a children’s home?

‘I go home, feeling like I have abandoned them. My home life is empty. I never see my family; I’m always working.’

‘If I could have put children in my pocket at the end of the day, I would. That way, I know what I will face the next day because other care workers cause the most damage. They undo my work with a child; it’s a vicious circle. The kids grow frustrated and eventually give up, and I feel I have let them down. I know it’s not me that has let them down; it’s the system. But children don’t know that.’

The voice in my head said, become a foster carer.

‘I knew there was another way, and the voice in my head said, ‘become a foster carer.’ ‘If you foster, you will care for this child at home.’ However, I needed the confidence to do it.’

When asked what my motivation to foster was, I said, ‘frustration.’ Because of my lived care experience, I knew these children would become very vulnerable. As the child ages and leaves residential care, I know they will no longer have state support.’

The reality is my tears are not for me. My tears are borne from frustration for the children I leave behind. Sadly, they are tears of fear for their future. Many of the children institutionalised in children’s homes lose faith and live with labels such as challenging behaviour. Subsequently, they are de-sensitised and detached from feelings, and they know that many staff who look after them do it purely because it’s their job. But, for me, it’s much more than a job. It’s a vocation, a calling, and something I know I was meant to do.’

Step Down foster care enables children to take each Step one day at a time.

Step Down foster care enables children to take each Step of the transition, one Step at a time, with you by their side every step of the way. It is the best gift we can give children in care, and why many foster carers do what they do.

Step Down foster care is for the determined. However, you have extensive support and training alongside specialist support networks to complement and increase your skills. Specialist training is crucial for you and the child; this is where the Not for Profit Charities excel. With outstanding therapeutic, practical and consistent support, 24/7, you can be the difference these children need. Can you foster?

Step Down foster care enables children to adjust to living outside of life from a children’s home. Without Step Down foster care, I dread to think of the future of a child with no life experience other than a life in residential care.

image of a boy walking down stairs, and the text reads, Step Down Foster Care
Step Down foster is the transition to family life, step by step.

Step Down foster care gives support when needed most.

The answer is, in a perfect world, these young people will find Step Down foster carers to help them transition into a safe family home. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Sadly, many care leavers don’t get the help they need. Furthermore, government legislation states young people aged 16 leaving care will not have state support. Now, because of a birthday, children who have complex needs, are once again, vulnerable.

Recent changes in Government policies state that young people aged 16+ will move into unregulated accommodation. This accommodation includes B&Bs and hotels, but children will no longer receive ‘care.’ It is important to remember that many of these unregulated accommodations are not necessarily where children know anyone. They are not local; sadly, young people know no one, and no one knows them.

Did you know the average cost for residential care for children is £3970.00 per week?

I don’t usually comment on politics, but on this occasion, I’m going to. Did you know the average weekly cost for a child placed in a private residential children’s home is £3970.00? This cost is a staggering £206,440 yearly when you do the math. This cost has risen by over 40% in the last six years, indicating the ‘limited impact of local authority commissioning.’

The average cost of foster carers from Independent, profit-making fostering agencies averages £2000.00 per week per child. Again, do the maths. Agencies whose foster carers have three sibling children on a long-term foster care placement can charge Local Authorities £6000.00 per week. This equates to a staggering £312000.00 per year! No wonder we can’t afford specialist, preventative support services for children and families.

Why can’t money be put aside for children’s futures after long-term care by the provider?

Many For Proft Fostering Agencies make obscene profits from vulnerable children. They also own many residential children’s homes and alternative educational provisions. With all this profit, why can’t they put a little money aside for the young person’s future when they are no longer eligible for their care?

After all, many children live in care homes for long periods; long-term care is a very lucrative business. And many children have lived in them for most of their lives there. Why not leave something to the child to ensure that financially they’re secure given the millions made from them? Perhaps shareholders and directors of these organisations don’t realise how vulnerable their young people, whom they have lovingly nurtured all these years, will be when they leave their care. Or is their motivation purely financial?

young boy looking ahead. the text reads foster carers ee beyond the label, they see the person.n

Many care workers are exhausted, with homes they never see.

Many care workers are exhausted and complain that they have homes they never see. They are exhausted from working long hours. They often work double shifts as the threat of losing their job looms if they don’t comply. The companies who employ them know it, too. These companies continually exploit highly experienced staff with enormous transferable skills in caring for vulnerable children and pay low wages on zero-hour contracts and, consequently, no job security.

These care workers dedicate themselves to helping vulnerable children; however, the working conditions they endure with the support they need are often lacking. As a result, the job becomes entangled with policies and procedures which bear no resemblance to the needs of the children they support. However, they quietly get on with the job, even though there are often too many cooks in the kitchen.

Step Down care is the difference children need. Can you foster?

Step Down foster care is challenging and rewarding; you need dedication and a firm commitment to supporting a young person who is most vulnerable with 24/7 care. Not for Profit charities offer you outstanding support while respecting your skills and experiences in caring for vulnerable children. You will receive a generous allowance to make a difference in the lives of children who, sadly, face a very uncertain future without you.

Can you foster? If you want to arrange a chat about Step Down Foster care, please get in touch on the form below. Together, we can make a huge difference in the future of children in care.

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