Fostering Network: Carers of disabled children lack support

Disabled children in foster care are being let down by social workers who have “little training or understanding” in supporting their carers, according to research released today by the Fostering Network.

The findings, based on a consultation carried out earlier this year, revealed a number of shortcomings in the support foster carers looking after disabled children received from their local authority or fostering service.

The charity warned that disabled children were facing being left with unmet needs as there were “serious gaps in training and support for foster carers”.

57% have not received specialist training

A poll of foster carers revealed that 57% of respondents had not received any specialist training to help them care for children with particular needs. In addition, 47% said that pre-fostering assessments had not prepared them well for the placement.

One foster carer said in the report: “I feel the local authority has little understanding of the needs of sick and disabled children in care. I am continually coming up against barriers and inflexible policies which cannot be adapted to meet the needs of our sick and disabled foster child.”

The charity said that it was vital to carry out research on the specific needs of disabled children in foster care in order to recruit, assess and support a skilled foster care workforce.

‘Most doing good job despite lack of training’

Lucy Peake, Fostering Network director of external affairs and the report’s author, said: “Foster carers are child care experts, and most are doing a good job caring for children with disabilities despite the lack of support and training.

“However, to provide the best possible care to a a child they must have access to the best possible learning and development and support otherwise some of the most vulnerable children will lose out.”

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