One Thousand Pairs of Shoes - Fostering a disabled child

27 September 2017
Close up of child

Lots of children coming into care have physical and mental disabilities, medical needs and learning difficulties.  They need a caring, nurturing home where they can feel safe, wanted, and be given the chances they need to thrive.

Our foster carers who look after children with complex needs are making a real difference to their lives.

We caught up with Jane who is a newly approved foster carer with us.  Jane is a 57 year old single carer who has recently retired. She felt that with more time in her life, it was the right time to become a foster carer and is enjoying her first foster placement, a 10 year old disabled girl with learning difficulties. 

Jane told us:  “When I retired I realised I wasn’t ready to stop and put my feet up, I needed to fill my time. I’d been thinking about fostering for a while and after being encouraged by friends I got in touch with the council to start the ball rolling.

“I’ve worked with disabled children and adults in the past and found it so rewarding, and when I found that there are lots of disabled children needing loving homes, I knew I could use my skills and experiences to make a difference.

My first placement

“My first placement came to stay with me the day after I was approved, a young girl called Emma with learning difficulties. I didn’t expect it to be so quick and I panicked when I took the phone call! But she needed an emergency placement, how could I turn it down, I was keen to get started in my new role as foster carer.

“The first night was hard, Emma was very unsettled. Her learning difficulties mean it is hard to understand her which she finds very frustrating. She was very upset and wouldn’t eat or drink which was worrying, but with the training I’d had and my previous experiences I was able to use different techniques to help her cope and begin to trust me, and thankfully she settled down within a few days.

A fresh start

“Change of routine is hard for Emma, so we take baby steps to make sure she feels safe, wanted and loved. Her difficult start in life meant she didn’t know how to play, she’d never been to a park or had many friends. I found this so sad and since she’s been staying with me I’ve introduced her to lots of new experiences including walking the dogs, eating ice cream, visiting new places, meeting new people, the list is endless! 

“She does find new experiences very daunting and often says she doesn’t want to go, but once we’ve been somewhere she doesn’t want to leave and is keen to go back the next day! Seeing the joy in her face when we’re out is just so heart-warming, she really is a lovely girl. It’s great seeing her confidence grow.

Building trust

“Emma is in mainstream school but in a class with other children with disabilities so she gets the support she needs. Because there had been a lot of upheaval in her life before she was fostered she finds it hard to trust people. One day, she was worried I wouldn’t be coming to pick her up from school so I got her a watch and showed her that at 3pm I would be there to pick her up and take her home.

“When she saw me waiting as I promised her trust in me started to build, and after a few days she didn’t need the watch anymore as she knew I would be there – it’s these little breakthroughs when you know you are making a difference, it’s fantastic to see!

Support and reassurance

“Fostering a disabled child means you have to be prepared to deal with lots of different situations including medical appointments, other parents and professionals.  It can be daunting at times and exhausting – you need support and reassurance from those around you. I take each day as it comes and know that my social worker can help me as well as other foster carers, and that the fostering team can give me the training I need to make sure I’m confident in my role. 

Just go for it!

“Emma is coming on leaps and bounds, I’m so proud of her and can’t help spoiling her! If you’ve been thinking about fostering you should definitely go for it. You can improve a child’s life and at the same time you will learn so much, it’s so rewarding. 

“My experience of working with disabled children has definitely helped me as a foster carer, so I would say to anyone considering this type of fostering to go out and get experience, you could volunteer at your local school or nursery then you’ll know if it’s the right type of fostering for you.

“If not, then there are lots of other children who need your love and support. Give the fostering team a call, they are great.  You definitely won’t look back!”

How we’ll support you in your foster carer role

Northamptonshire County Council provides preparation training for foster carers to help get you ready for the role, and offers lots of different training courses tailored to different needs.

Our team will help you with advice and information at every stage and will put you in touch with other foster carers in your area to help you build a strong support network.

We will also pay you a weekly allowance which is higher than the government recommended rates.

Get in touch today

We’d love to talk to you if you want to know more, you can get in touch by:

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