Published Wednesday 2 November 2022 at 11:13
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has launched an urgent appeal for more people to find out about becoming a specialist foster carer.
Working alongside Blackpool Council, BwD is appealing to meet the needs of local children and young people who are in care with complex emotional and physical needs.
Both councils are joining forces to recruit a diverse range of fostering families who can provide them with a safe and supportive environment.
Foster carers are needed across all age ranges, for varying length of times. Carers that can take children and young people with complex needs are a priority but foster carers from all walks of life are needed.
Councillor Julie Gunn, Elected Member for Children’s Services at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:
Being a foster carer is an amazing thing to do, and we are so grateful to have such great BwD foster carers who offer support and care for children and young people and provide a safe home environment.
We are looking for people who can offer a young person a safe place to stay at a time in their lives when they need it most. When a child needs a PACE bed it’s because the only alternative is a police custody suite for the night. We want to do all we can to avoid that no matter what the situation is.
Foster carers choose the type of fostering that is most suited to them and their family life. They can provide a child or children with a home for a few weeks, months or even years.
Michelle Plaiter is a foster carer with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and specialises in parent and child placements.
With nine children of our own, and our professional backgrounds, we felt that we had the expertise and passion to support parents who are within the Child Protection process. We wanted to help parents to be able to improve their parenting skills so that they had a chance of keeping their children in their care.
We do appreciate that there are some parents who are unable to keep their children safe and whilst this is not always the outcome that we would have desired, for some children, it is safer for them to live with someone else. We value that we can give those parents the opportunity to make changes and support them through the process, whether it is to take their child home or their child to live somewhere else.
Specialist foster care includes:
- Parent and child fostering (sometimes known as mother and baby fostering). This involves caring for a vulnerable parent and their young child.
- Foster carers provide a safe place for a new parent to take their first steps, helping them to adjust and develop the valuable skills they need to nurture and care for their baby.
- Fostering disabled children. As a foster carer for disabled children, this may involve taking care of a child or young person with a range of medical conditions including developmental disabilities such as autism, physical disabilities which limit a child’s mobility, and learning or sensory disabilities. Foster carers can find this type of fostering hugely rewarding as they help a child with complex needs live their life to the fullest, giving them the help and support they need to reach their potential.
- Step down fostering. A step-down foster carer will help a child or young person adjust to moving from a residential children’s home to living in a stable and supportive family environment. Making the move from a residential setting to a family home can be a difficult transition for the child. They may have experienced trauma, which means that they may display complex and challenging behaviour. To help the child recover, foster carers provide empathy and compassion alongside secure boundaries.
- Remand fostering. This type of fostering provides young people who are remanded by the courts with a remand foster carer while they await court proceedings. A remand placement is usually a short-term arrangement and involves a foster carer working closely with youth justice officials.
Empathy and patience are key to being a specialist foster carer. The role would be particularly suitable for those with a background in childcare, social care, policing, teaching, youth work or previous experience of foster care.
People interested in becoming a specialist foster carer must have a spare bedroom and be over 21 years.
Specialist foster carers receive extensive training and a full package of support, including enhanced generous allowances to cover the cost of caring for a child or young person and to acknowledge the commitment required to this crucial role.
They also benefit from regular support groups, peer mentors for new carers, fostering forum meetings, and a dedicated supervising social worker.
You can find out more information, including frequently asked questions about fostering with Blackburn with Darwen Council, by visiting the Let’s Foster website.