The latest foster care statistics show that there are nearly 90,000 children in care across England and Wales; with this number only set to rise.
Given the quantity of children in care, many studies have been conducted to assess the importance of stability for children and young people’s wellbeing and development. Many of the children within the care system have experienced neglect, abuse and adversity within their homes, which is why they have been taken into care.
Evidence suggests that a stable and safe environment that nurtures and provides a sense of belonging to a child helps them to form healthy, safe, and positive relationships with the people around them, along with helping them to grow and thrive. Not only this, but vulnerable children need a supportive school network made up of professionals to help children feel supported, valued and, most of all, able to reach their full potential.
The Stability Index
It is due to the research that has been conducted, and for the reasons listed above, that the Stability Index put together by the Children’s Commissioner matters.
The Stability Index highlights the necessity of a safe and stable home life, whereby children who are living in care are treated equally. Along with this, it outlines the skills that are necessary for a parent or caregiver to nurture a child and make them feel stable within a family unit.
There are links between stability and children flourishing in their home, school and social lives. If a child experiences instability, they may have difficulty making friends, achieving their full potential in school, or even trusting the adults around them. This unstable feeling a child may experience might make it harder for them to have any form of relationship with parents, caregivers, teachers or social workers – unfortunately, instability tends to leave a child feeling unsafe and unable to trust the adults around them.
The Stability Index states that children in care are highly likely to have experienced instability in one way or another – in fact, next to no children at all, who are within the care system, will have grown up experiencing a stable childhood. The reason for this is that children in care tend to live with a number of different foster families, sometimes resulting in them having to move schools, and often being passed around between social workers.
This sort of instability is also just examples that we know about – unfortunately, a lot of instability starts from birth, especially if a child has experienced neglect or abuse from a young age.
Unfortunately, these traumatic experiences aren’t always tracked in a child’s records, so they remain unknown, unless the child volunteers this information to someone they trust. This, sadly, is just one of the things foster parents and social workers have to deal with when arranging for a foster child to be fostered in the right home.
At Compass, we know how important stability is in a child’s life, which is why we put so much effort into finding the ideal foster parents for each child. We make sure to offer support to, not only the children within our care, but our foster parents too – we aim to give them all the training, support and tools to help build a happy, safe and stable home for the children they care for.
We offer extensive training to our foster parents and staff to help therapeutically care for young people who have not had the best start in life. Building an attachment is extremely important for adults with children in care, fostering a trusting relationship is vital to help young people flourish. You can read about our foster parent’s experiences with young people on our blogs page.
If you feel as though you could give a child or young person a stable home, or would like to learn more about foster care, you can get in touch with us on 0800 566 8317 or alternatively you can request a digital brochure today.
Unfortunately, a lot of children in foster care have experienced disrupted and extremely hard childhoods. Most of them will have faced some form of trauma or abuse and, as a result, find it extremely difficult to trust the adults in their lives. For this reason, leaving care can be a rather difficult topic to approach with a child in foster care, as they may already have issues with abandonment.
For this reason, there are a number of things in place to make the transition into leaving foster care a lot easier; so, can a foster child leave at 16? What precautions, plans and measures are put in place to ensure the child is as prepared for adulthood as possible? There are many questions to ask as you prepare your foster child for independence.
What age does foster care stop?
In England and Wales, the age children leave care is 18, although it is possible for young people to also leave care at age 16. When a child turns 18, their care order will end, and the local authority is no longer considered to be their ‘corporate parent.’ However, this isn’t to say they are completely abandoned – all statutory support from their local authority won’t end right away, but it will end by the time the young person is 25.
In some cases, a child will make the personal decision to leave care at the age of 16, while they are still legally considered a child. Some make this decision because they feel as though they are ready and excited to start a life completely independently. However, each child needs to understand the reality of making this decision, as it isn’t always as fun or as easy as they initially expect it to be.
Many young people do not feel ready to leave their foster carers, or residential foster homes at the age of 16, 17 or even 18. Usually, given their circumstances, they are afraid of being alone and worry that they will have nobody to turn to, should things go wrong.
How does a child prepare to leave care?
Preparing to leave care can be overwhelming, so everyone involved should be preparing for this well before the young person turns 18. Foster children don’t want to be suddenly surprised when they are told about leaving care, it needs to be a sensitive discussion, with no surprises and the opportunity for them to ask questions. As a good parent will help their child transition into adulthood, gain independence and learn to hold their own, everyone involved in a foster child’s life also needs to be prepared to do this.
A foster parent should help their foster child (or children) to develop the practical skills they need to live independently; from cooking and cleaning, to managing their own money and applying for jobs. The job of the foster parent is to help their foster children to transition into adulthood and give them the best chance possible.
When the leaving process formally starts, typically when they young person reaches 16 years of age, they are assigned a personal advisor, which is someone who will support them up until the age of 25 – although, some young people choose to say goodbye to their assigned personal advisor much sooner than this. From here, the child will have the help of their social worker and personal advisor as they begin to navigate their way into early adulthood independently and safely – this is known as putting together a ‘pathway plan.’
This ‘pathway plan’ should help to set goals that both the young person and their local authority can refer to during this transition. A pathway plan might include things such as educational goals or career ambitions, where they would like to live or any financial help they may require. This plan is expected to be updated every six months and is a way of helping the young person feel as prepared as possible when facing the realities of adulthood.
Approaching adulthood as a child in care can feel uncertain and scary. A lot of the time, children in care will feel as though they are going to be abandoned – which is usually as a result of being left by their biological parent or being transferred between foster families. As a foster parent, it would be your job to help this transition be as pain-free as possible. Every child should feel as though they have a good chance at achieving what they want in life, and foster parents could be the reason a foster child feels less scared and alone during this transition into adulthood.
If you think you could offer this sort of support to a child or young person, you can find out more about the process of becoming a foster parent and request a digital brochure today. If you have more questions about fostering a child then give us a call 0800 566 8317 and our friendly team will answer any you may have.
Welcoming a foster child (or children) into your home isn’t as simple as just opening your doors to them – there are a few things you will want to consider before they arrive. Creating a foster house that isn’t only welcoming, but also safe, might seem a bit overwhelming, but there are a few things you can do to achieve this.
Your foster child will be experiencing a whole variety of emotions, from sadness to anxiety. Remember they are coming to stay in a stranger’s home and are probably quite confused as to why they have been removed from their own home. To you, your home is your home, but to a child or young person coming into your care, it will feel foreign and might be difficult for them to settle.
If you have time before your foster child arrives, you might be asking ‘how to welcome a foster child into home?’ We have collected a few practical tips to prepare for their arrival.
Make sure it is clean
Although we don’t expect your foster child will be inspecting your house in the same way an adult would, you will still want to make sure your home is as clean as possible when your foster child arrives. The child or young person is more likely to feel at home if they step into a tiny house, because mess and clutter suggests that the home is chaotic or unstable.
As a foster carer, ensuring a home is warm, clean, and safe is what will help to make your child or young person feel more at home.
Ensure they have a space they can consider theirs
Without a doubt, the most important part of the home for the foster child will be their bedroom. It will be a place they can consider theirs, so they should feel comfortable enough to spend time there. It is likely that your foster child will spend quite some time in their bedrooms in the first few days they are living with you, so they need to feel secure and welcome there.
Although there is no need to completely redecorate their room before they move in, it is important that you do try to add personal touches depending on their interests and age. Young children will want more toys, books and games in their room, whereas a television would probably suit an older child more.
Your foster child’s bedroom needs to be a place for the child to feel relaxed, express themselves and be free to be themselves. Although it will be beneficial for them to build a relationship and spend time with your household and family members, they might feel a little overwhelmed at times; so having a safe haven to escape to is essential.
Find out about their interests and hobbies
Before you can start to personalise their bedroom, it would be a good idea, if you have time, to learn about your foster child’s background and situation. By having a chat with your social worker, you can find out as much as possible about the child coming to live with you before they even arrive.
By asking questions about their character, their interests, their favourite foods, and information about their background, you will get a good idea as to what sort of thing your foster child or young person will want in their space.
Pack away anything fragile or of sentimental value
When looking after younger children, we recommend that you pack away anything fragile or sentimental, to avoid preventable damages. Your home needs to be functional and as welcoming as possible, and the children in your care need to be able to play and feel comfortable, without the fear of breaking anything important. Although you will have to establish house rules, they will feel far more comfortable if they aren’t constantly worried about breaking things.
Remember, foster children will usually have come from broken or unstable homes, so having a space they feel safe and cared for will feel unfamiliar to them. By giving them quality care, love and attention, they will begin to feel at home, but making sure their space feels like their own is essential.
For more advice on how to welcome a foster child into home, you can read more about the things to consider for your first day with a foster child. If you feel as though you could give a child or young person a suitable home, or would like to learn more about foster care, you can get in touch with us on 0800 566 8317 or alternatively you can request a digital brochure today.
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, there are a few things you will need to know before starting this process; however, do not feel you need to know everything right away. It’s likely that you have a lot of questions. One we’re asked often is ‘how long does it take to become a foster carer? And why does the process take the time it does?’
According to research, many children are affected by separation anxiety disorder from a very young age. The reason for this is that when they grow up and become toddlers, they realise very quickly how much they depend on their parents or guardians. For this reason, they can feel anxious when they are not around these people or left to be cared for by strangers or people they don’t know particularly well.
By the time a child enters foster care, their development has already been affected due to the circumstances that have led them to be removed from their birth family.
Without a doubt, fostering is a career path many people follow, and it is a full-time role. Fostering as a career opens many doors, especially if you are looking for a career where you can directly influence and change children’s lives for the better.
Before considering becoming a foster parent, you will need to think about whether it is the right path for you. Fostering is not for everyone, and there are a few things you might want to think about when determining whether fostering is the right thing for you.
One of the most common questions asked when people begin to consider fostering is ‘are foster carers self employed?’
Foster carers receive a fostering allowance for each child placed in their care. The amounts vary for each child and how many children are placed with them – but this financial support is classed as an income and can, as a result, be taxed. Foster carers are considered self-employed, so are responsible for paying their own taxes.
When children are unable to live with their birth family, they sometimes need to be looked after by a foster carer. Given that these children will have been removed from their parent’s care, for a lot of them, this will be their first impression of what it is like to live in a safe and positive environment.