As the nation’s demand for foster carers continually increases, so does the demand for carer’s interested in looking after children with complex needs. This type of fostering is known as therapeutic foster care, and refers to being able to provide extra assistance to troubled children who may struggle with mental health issues. Many children have experienced trauma prior to being Looked After and therefore need additional support from their foster carer. Being a therapeutic foster carer allows you to provide a sense of sanctuary to a young person with complex needs, whilst also being able to facilitate the mental health assistance that they require.
What is therapeutic fostering?
Therapeutic foster care is a type of fostering where carers look after children with complex needs and challenging behaviour. This is often when children have experienced a traumatic start in life, and have been damaged emotionally and developmentally because of this. Therapeutic fostering allows the opportunity for these young children to flourish and grow through extra assistance, as well as being part of a loving and accepting home – which is a staple trait of any foster carer. By being a therapeutic foster carer, you will have a detailed breakdown of the child’s needs on every level, especially from a mental health perspective, which will allow you to care for this child in a more productive and effective manner.
Therapeutic foster care training and support
Being a therapeutic foster carer requires a level of special therapeutic foster care training and education that Excel Fostering can provide. With this training and support, you will be able to learn exactly what is required from a therapeutic foster carer. This will equip you for future fostering placements which will follow once all training and education is completed.
In the past, the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) would provide the specialist therapeutic assessments and interventions. This is an NHS driven service that would aim to provide treatment for young people suffering with mental health, who may have needed therapy, psychologists or psychiatrists. However, the system itself has been faltering due to economic reasons – which provokes the need for a solution and proactive response.
Excel Fostering are proud to offer a Multidisciplinary Assessment & Treatment Service (MATs) as an equivalent to the CAMHS. This is a specialist fostering programme which is provided to enhance the support and resources to foster carers allowing the therapeutic fostering agency to provide direct therapeutic input, which is often inaccessible through CAMHS. MATs provide an in-house psychological assessment, meaning the team in charge of the child’s development receives detailed guidance on the child’s needs. A clinician will also be allocated to each foster family, providing 1:1 support, ensuring that foster carers never feel ‘alone’. The service includes social workers, child psychotherapists, social pedagogues, play therapists, support workers, dyadic developmental psychotherapists, and educational specialists.
Reasons for recommending therapeutic services for children in care
There are many reasons why foster children may need therapeutic services, but the most common reasons include:
- Challenging behaviour
- Inability to regulate emotion
- Barriers to educational engagement
- Enuresis/encopresis (bedwetting/soiling)
- Inability to socialise
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Fears, phobias and anxieties
- Generalised or specific learning difficulties
- Speech and language difficulties
- Suicidal ideation and or suicidal intent
- Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
- Self-harming behaviours
- Sexually harmful behaviours
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Eating difficulties
How to become a therapeutic foster parent
Becoming a therapeutic foster carer requires someone who has experience or willingness to develop skills in trauma led care, alongside health specialists to provide a better life to a young person or child. If you think therapeutic foster care is the right path for you, our friendly team are on hand to provide further information. Simply get in touch with us today to find out more.