Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Deciding to foster a child is often a decision we have thought about over time. Some people know precisely the type of foster care they want to offer; they are maybe looking at temporary care of children such as respite, emergency and short-term foster care. Others, however, utilise skills and experience in caring for children; they know the challenges children face and look beyond labels to see the child. Those foster carers are therapeutic foster carers. However, it is not a widely recognised type of foster care. Therapeutic foster care is a challenge, but for foster carers who look beyond labels and see the child, it’s the right one for them.
Some potential foster carers are savvy; they explore and seek advice from existing foster carers. Subsequently, they are the most effective foster carers, often making the most significant difference in children’s lives, especially children labelled as challenging behaviour and who might otherwise be left out.
I didn’t know about Therapeutic foster care.
One foster carer who listened and learned from other foster carers shares her fostering journey. This journey has led to her becoming an approved foster carer offering therapeutic foster care to a young man. She has been his foster parent for over nine years now, and he’s now in college, studying Childcare; because one day, he wants to become a foster carer too. Their journey has not been straightforward; it has had many challenges, but they have met those challenges and beat them together with the best support, patience, love, and a sense of humour.
I heard about Therapeutic foster care; I knew it instinctively, it was for me.
‘When I found out about Therapeutic foster care, I knew instinctively therapeutic care was the right choice for me. I’d never heard of it, but my friend is a very experienced foster carer; she told me about it in conversation. She said, ‘Therapeutic foster care is about caring for children who may suffer significant trauma; it was considered a very ‘challenging’ role.’
‘I listened to her description of Therapeutic foster care, and I knew the skills I had, both personally and professionally, could be helpful. More importantly, instinctively, deep-down; the more I heard, the more I knew; this type of foster care was the one for me.’
Therapeutic foster care is a long-term commitment to a child.
‘Therapeutic foster carers are often unable to support more than one child at a time because these children need 1:1 care in a nurturing environment. Many of these children are over six years of age and labelled with displaying ‘challenging behaviour’, mainly due to the significant trauma they have suffered in their lives. Therefore, my fostering support’s consistency is vital. However, another reason for choosing Therapeutic foster care; I wanted a young person to be placed with me long-term.’
‘Also, many children who need therapeutic foster carers are the hardest to find foster homes. Sadly, many are older children; therefore, we need to commit ourselves long-term because this type of care for an older child needs consistency and time dedicated to them.’
I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life.
‘It was my dream to make a difference to a vulnerable child’s life when they needed it most. However, it would take a lot of time. I knew that I had to commit full-time to a child and myself as a Therapeutic foster carer in order to do this right. But, it was my time to give, and I chose to give my time for as long as I was needed.’
‘Also, Therapeutic foster care is a specialist type of foster care. Subsequently, it is not the kind of care you can stop and give up on; because, for many children, you are the last hope.’
‘Many children have faced trauma, loss, and rejection, and broken fostering placements leaves children to develop trust and emotional barriers. It is vital to get this care right, we owe it to children’s futures. More importantly, we have to do what we say; commit ourselves to provide continuity of care to a child, because letting these children down is not an option.’
My foster child is now a young man in college.
‘I am currently a foster carer for a young man now 17 years of age. He has been with me for nine years, and I am incredibly proud of the young man he has become. He started college this year, and his main subject is Childcare; he wants to be a Foster carer himself in a few years.’
‘I loved hearing him say he wanted to foster children; because, to me, it shows he had a good experience of being in care. Also, it made me realise how much difference foster carers make to a child’s life.’
My training helped me to look beyond labels and see the child.
‘When you hear people referring to children with labels such as ‘challenging behaviour’, it is daunting. However, you are never alone because you have regular training from support groups, other foster carers, and friends and family. Also, other foster carers willingly share how things work for them, and it’s helpful to get other people’s perspectives and listen to their advice, especially about the parenting tools you can try.’
‘Naturally, there have been many ‘challenging’ times, and I have learned a lot along the way from others; however, personally, the rewards are immense.’
‘When a young person begins to trust you, they settle in their life with you, and eventually, they start to flourish. Most importantly, Therapeutic foster carers lead children and young people to a better future; I can think of no other career as rewarding!’
No academic qualifications are needed for Therapeutic foster care.
‘You don’t need any specific academic qualifications to be a therapeutic foster carer. However, you will undertake training, especially on behaviours and parenting programmes to help children. I used Triple P and Webster Stratton, and I found them very helpful; I use their strategies often.’
‘Another programme I use is Triple P. Triple P is a parenting intervention and the main goals are increasing parents’ knowledge, skills, and confidence and reducing the prevalence of mental health, emotional, and behavioural problems in children and adolescents.’
‘Also, another programme I use is the Webster-Stratton Incredible Years Therapeutic Dinosaur School programme; I find their strategies in helping children very helpful.’
Webster Stratton strategies is a set of inter-locking programmes.
‘This programme is a set of interlocking programmes to be used by parents, children, teachers and foster parents to treat conduct disorders in children. Initially, it was developed to help children aged 4-8 years, and the aim is to allow them to create more appropriate social and problem-solving skills. This information is https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Webster-Stratton_Incredible_Years_programme; I hope it is helpful to you.’
‘Since being a foster carer, I have learned a lot. However, I think that could be said of all parents; we learn as we go along!‘
Identifying challenging behaviour helps.
‘I found I needed to be aware of a child’s everyday behaviour in conjunction with ‘challenging behaviours’ because it helped me identify triggers. These ‘triggers’ often lead to ‘challenging behaviour’, are often caused by trauma in their past. As Therapeutic foster carers, we learn to recognise these ‘triggers’, and our extensive training makes a huge difference in creating support strategies.’
‘I love the vocation that I am doing. I feel fortunate and proud to have made a difference in a young person’s life. Also, I know their experience of their life with me will always be with them; carrying them through to adulthood; this gives me the most satisfaction of all.’
‘Therapeutic foster care is a challenging type of foster care, but it is hugely rewarding. You will need patience and an enormous sense of humour; because children will push you to the limit at times. Also, it will help if you have a strong support network of family and friends you can rely on. However, as children and young people flourish over time; you know that you have made a massive difference to a child’s future.’
Verve CIC, recruiting foster carers for the Not for Profit sector.
Verve Recruitment CIC recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit sector exclusively. Verve CIC aims to match you with a Not for Profit Charity to match you and your skills, experiences in caring for children, and your motivation to make a difference in children’s lives. If we match you well, we match children well; subsequently, children thrive and achieve better outcomes to a better future.
If you would like a chat about fostering a child or children with a Not for Profit Charity, please get in touch on the form below. There’s no cost, no commitment, just honest advice and support to enable you to make the decision, is fostering for me? Because if it is, we have done our job well. Can you foster?
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