WHY CHILDREN ARE IN FOSTER CARE?
There are many reasons why children need to be looked after by foster carers.
Social services work to help and support thousands of families who may be experiencing difficulties and in many cases are successful in helping those families regain control and get back on track. Although taken as a last resort, social services feel that it is not safe or practical for a child to remain in their family home. This can be a permanent or temporary decision with the majority of children at some stage being able to return home with their families.
In order for a child to be taken into care social services must feel that there is a real and immediate physical, mental or emotional threat to the wellbeing of a child and must prove this to a magistrate in order to get a removal order. Of course, the preferred solution would be for a child to remain with their family however this is not always possible.
These reasons do not always mean that the child’s family is at fault, or that the child is ‘difficult’. The following broad categories explain why children need foster carers:
Physical abuse is probably the most common reason that people think of when considering the reasons that a child would be placed in foster care. The abuse could be at the hands of a parent or other relative and the child is placed into care for their own safety. Physical abuse extends to more than just smacking or hitting a child, this can also include restraining a child or keeping them in an unsafe environment which could cause them physical harm. No child should face the threat of physical violence from an adult or other family member. Physical abuse can also leave emotional scars and a child that has suffered physical abuse may be traumatized, frightened and distrusting towards adults. A foster parent will need to be kind, patient and understanding when dealing with the needs of a child who has suffered physical abuse
There are a number of things that can be considered of sexual abuse and the effects of sexual abuse on a child can be devastating and far reaching. A child who has suffered child abuse at the hands of a parent or relative and is removed from the family home may be confused and may not understand what has been happening to them, especially in younger children this can be quite difficult for them to come to terms with. A child who has suffered sexual abuse may be withdrawn, scared and untrusting of adults. Special training sessions are available to foster parents who are dealing with children affected by sexual abuse. Support and counselling will also be offered to any child who has suffered sexual abuse.
Parental neglect comes in many forms, this could be a neglect by not meeting a child’s basic needs such as making sure that the child is cleaned, fed and generally well or this could be the neglect of a child’s medical needs which could have serious consequences on their health, for example, refusing medical treatment.
Neglect also covers allowing children to live in an unsafe or unclean environment where they could become ill or endanger themselves.
The same also applies to young children that have been left on their own to care for themselves which could place them in danger and cause them significant harm.
When a parent is taken into police custody for whatever reason, they are no longer able to take care of their child, in most cases a family member such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent will step in and take care of the child or children but sometimes this is not possible. When this happens, the child will be placed with foster parents until the parent is released and is able to take care of them once again.
Drug or alcohol abuse
When a parent is misusing drugs or alcohol their ability to function as parents can become impaired and this means that they may not be capable of caring for their children and in particular means that the children can be in danger of harm and neglect. While measures are taken to help the parent with their addiction it is sometimes decided that the children should be placed in foster care while the adult deals with their addiction
In cases where a parent is struggling to cope with a particularly difficult child or home situation, it may be decided that the child spends some time away from the family in order to help repair their relationship with their family. Most children who receive this type of placement are able to return to the family home at some stage but may require ongoing support before this is achieved.
Reasons for this could be a child who has constant fight with siblings and a child has been removed to allow things to calm down.
Sometimes, a parent may just feel unable to cope with their children and has decided that their children would be better off with a family that is more able to look after them.
Where a parent has passed away, the most common solution is for the child to be placed with a close family member but when this is not possible, the child will be placed into a foster family.
Illness or hospitalization
When a parent falls seriously ill or is hospitalised and is temporarily unable to care for their children, a temporary foster placement will be sought where a family member is unable to look after the child. In most cases, once the parent is well enough, the child will return home.
Respite foster care is offered to the birth parents who is caring for a very ill child or a child with a physical or mental disability, this can be very tiring and very often leaves no time for them to take care of essentials such as household chores, shopping or household repairs. In addition, respite is also offered to other foster carers and is available in order to support placement demands and children’s needs.
There are many other situations that may mean that a child is placed into care be that temporarily or more long term. Every family is different as are the pressures and situation that each one of them faces. The important thing to remember is that regardless of the circumstances, the children that are placed into the care of foster parents will need to feel supported, cared for and comfortable in their new surroundings.
Children have a natural ability to recover and bounce back from the adverse circumstances and having the support of a foster family is just one part of making sure that regardless of the circumstances that they may face, they can still have a very bright future.
The joy that foster parents receive from watching the children in their care blossom and grow is second to none. Having this net of extra support in the community truly helps those who need it most.
No matter what the original reason may be, Pride Fostering are committed to providing quality foster care to those children whose parents are unable to take care of them.
We understand that the complexities of each different case may mean that our foster carers may need some extra support from time to time and we are always here to help, we have a dedicated 24 hour support line so that foster carers never feel alone, you can contact us at any time of the day or night, we will help with any concerns or problems that you may be having. We also offer year-round training and support sessions local to you so that you will always feel supported by us, no matter what the situation.