The foster care stocktake has issued its report and much is made of the quality of the carers we have in this country. Undoubtedly true. In this week where we celebrate the unique contribution that LGBT foster carers make, a focus on this community is timely. There is a shortage of 7,000 fostering families in the UK. So we need to attract people into foster care – and urgently. A key group is the LGBT community and for a very important reason: resilience. The stocktake report has found that 65% of children coming into care now have experienced abuse or neglect. This means that the number of young people who have been traumatised is proportionately very high. This is having a profound effect on fostering provision. Such children are presenting with complex needs. They need therapy and understanding to start to recover from their experiences. Foster carers need to be not only very resilient to be able to manage these placements, but they also need to be trained to parent therapeutically. This is needed to safeguard placements. Repeated placement breakdowns are extremely damaging to children already suffering from the effects of trauma. They are also demoralising to the carers.
Because of their life experiences, LGBT carers often have a high level of resilience having had to overcome a range of unique problems in life before they ever became foster carers. LGBT folk tend to have a good understanding when it comes to issues of rejection and acceptance. This means they are often already predisposed to understanding the problems children may feel.
The LGBT Adoption and Fostering week runs annually and first started in 2012. The purpose of the week is always to concentrate attention on the successes and commitment of the nation’s LGBT adoptive parents and foster carers. The purpose of this week is also to make information available about what fostering involves – and how to go about becoming a foster carer if you are a member of the LGBT community. At Rainbow, we are also keen to reach out to this community and stress the opportunities we provide in the area of therapeutic foster care.
Record numbers of potential LGBT adopters and foster carers are now being reached. Figures now show that same-sex couples are responsible for 1 in 12 adoptions. Most encouragingly, other statistics reveal that this is a rising trend and also includes foster care. Clearly, this is significant given the challenges of recruiting foster carers generally.
The Department of Education highlighted that in England – between April 2014 – March 2015, 8.44% of adoptions was accounted for by same-sex couples. This figure was up from just 3.27% in 2011 – a significant rise. In England there were 450 adoptions by same-sex couples, in Scotland there were 17 and in Wales there were 30. In response to this trend, the chief executive of the adoption charity, New Family Social, Tor Doherty informed Pink News –
“it’s key in every adoption case that the needs of the child are paramount throughout” and “It’s fantastic that adoption agencies increasingly recognise the skills that LGBT can bring as parents to meet those children’s needs.”
These statistics will be of obvious interest to the foster care sector as a whole – certainly at Rainbow Fostering, we value the commitment and resilience of all LGBT foster carers. Certainly in the light of current recruitment challenges, the industry should reflect on just one statistic produced by New Family Social: if just 1% of LGBT people were to adopt or foster, there would no longer be any children or young people waiting for a new home.
Of particular interest is that, according to Tor Doherty from New Family Social, LGBT carers are very often more willing to consider children who are harder to place – such as teenagers or those who have a range complex needs. There are definite reasons as to why this is the case: social workers have reported in studies produced by the Rees Centre (Research in Fostering and Education – University of Oxford Department of Education), that LBGT foster carers often display particular strengths in relation to providing foster care. These included: sensitivity, psychological stability, educational accomplishments, financial security, resourcefulness – as well as very strong network support systems.
In another study that was produced, social workers had the opinion that as LGBT foster carers often had direct experience of discrimination and marginalisation, their capabilities in considering the challenges inherent in fostering were higher. And this went alongside generally higher levels of resilience. Being a foster parent presents many challenges and resilience is certainly a key attribute – especially in connection with maintaining placement stability.
Whatever your religion, background or personal situation, we would very much like to speak with you if you are interested in becoming a carer. We are also particularly keen to attract people from the LGBT community who may be thinking of a career in care – or to specialise in therapeutic foster care.
We can provide you with information on the type of training we offer to facilitate therapeutic parenting. This equips a carer with the ability to better understand children with complex needs. A therapeutic carer will be enabled to create a supportive environment for a child or young person who has suffered trauma. The foster carer will be able to appreciate the experiences of the child and their negative impacts. Understanding what has gone wrong, means the carer will have the skills to support the child’s emotional, psychological and social development.
Thinking of transferring to Rainbow?
If you are already an approved carer (someone already with a long term foster placement), and considering transferring to another service provider, Rainbow will make the process efficient and stress free. Joining Rainbow means you may be eligible for a special ‘Rainbow Reward’ bonus – more information on this scheme is available: call 020 8427 3355. We also pay a bonus of £500 if you are a carer and can refer a friend or acquaintance to become a carer. You will receive the bonus once the first placement has been accepted.
News about foster care:
Leading foster care charity condemns stocktake
6th March, February 2018
The chief executive of The Fostering Network, Kevin Williams, has written to the Children’s Minister, Nadim Zahawi. In the letter he expresses disappointment with the (more)
Good news at the end of our Rainbow…Rainbow will be focusing on raising awareness of the great work done by LGBT carers throughout the week.