There is a current shortage of around 9,000 foster carers needed to offer stable and nurturing stable placements for children who are not able to live with their own family. Many of the children needing such stable placements are children who require foster carers able to deal with their complex needs.
Statistics suggest that:
• Disabled children are nine times more likely to become looked after than non-disabled children.
• About a quarter of all looked after children are disabled.
• Children with learning disabilities are the children for whom it is the most difficult to find permanent families.
• Many disabled children awaiting permanent placements are under five, two-thirds are boys, and most are white.
• Black disabled children are more likely than black non-disabled children to be placed with white families.
(Figures courtesy of B.A.A.F.)
Disability: a definition.
You are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. (Substantial means not minor or trivial and long term means lasting for more than 12 months)
Physical disabilities can include any disability which limits the physical function of one or more limbs. Other physical disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, blindness or epilepsy.
People with a significant impairment in their ability to learn are described as having learning difficulties/disabilities. Learning difficulties/disabilities are often described as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ’severe’.
Disabilities which have a significant effect on a child’s daily life are often termed ‘special’ or ‘complex’ needs.
What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘disabled’? Is it a picture of difficulties and obstacles? You might envisage frequent medical appointments, complicated physical and personal care arrangements, or a child unable to play or communicate with you.
Caring for a disabled child can seem daunting and may perhaps frighten people off from considering fostering for a disabled child. ‘Disability’ can often be a label, which completely obscures the actual child, and the reality of who that child is. Disabled children need stability, security and a loving family in the same way as any child!
Fostering children is a demanding undertaking and for foster carers looking to provide care for children with complex needs there may be additional demands in terms of physical care but with support from dedicated and committed foster carers, disabled children can reach their full potential in the same way as any child who is given appropriate support and a nurturing home.
‘Be my Parent’ have some wonderful testimonies on their website from carers about their experiences of fostering and adopting disabled children, visit them at http://www.bemyparent.org.uk/features/disability,12,IN.html