We regularly need to identify experienced and committed foster carers who can provide long term placements for a number of children in Essex. These children may come from a range of different background circumstances. They will be children who need to be the only child in the home, sibling groups and sometimes teenagers. Most of the children we place are aged from seven years upwards and have complex needs arising from their experiences.
What is long term fostering?
Long term fostering is a commitment made by foster carers to a child who is looked after and has a Care Plan of long term fostering.” Long term” is until the child/young person is able to live independently having finished their education. This arrangement is often helpful to children who need the security that comes with knowing that they will be cared for by their foster carers for as long as they need to be looked after. Foster carers who have cared for children on a long term basis often continue this commitment as the young person moves on to independence and this ensure that young adults have the ongoing support that is available to all children/ young people at this stage in their lives.
Why become a long term foster carer?
Children who are cared for in
long term placements benefit from greater security and stability. They enjoy
and experience family membership, extended family relationships together with support,
trust and the opportunity to fit in better with their peers. Change is
difficult for everyone and long term fostering provides consistency and continuity.
Children and young people are able to embed memories and a better understanding
of who they are. This assists with the development of improved self -esteem and
self- confidence and a base from which to sustain friendships engage and
succeed in education and experience positive family values. Foster Carer’s and their families
experience less change and disruption and have the benefit of making positive
sometimes, lifelong relationships with the children in their care.
The legal context
When children and young people are looked after it is important that their longer term plans are considered. The Care Plan for the child should be decided by the time the second CLA Review is held. This sometimes means that there are several options for the child and that these plans run in parallel until it is clear what is best for the child. Long term fostering is a means of achieving permanency for the child or young person without a legal process, for example that exists with Adoption or Special Guardianship Orders. Long term placements are often long term linked and this decision to complete this process is made at a CLA Review. Long term linked children remain looked after. Young people who are no longer looked after can sometimes remain with their foster carers under the stay put policy.
Who you can talk to
Please talk to your supervising social worker if you think long term fostering might be right for you and your family.
In Essex each of the quadrant fostering teams have a nominated social worker for long term fostering who has a responsibility for permanency arrangements with foster carers.
You can contact the social worker in your quadrant if you would like to know more.
Details are as follows:
West – Jenny Garrett 03330 138223
North – Position currently vacant (06/2020)
Mid – Pernell Dunne 03330 130888
South - Carol Smith 03330 137197
Essex has adopted the Permanency Fostering Model “Providing a Secure Base” in Long Term Foster Care’ developed by Gillian Schofield and Mary Beeks.