Fostering comes in many different shapes and guises because the needs of looked after children and young people are many and varied.
From different faiths and cultures to different therapeutic needs, children in care need a range of supportive options in order to leave their traumatic past behind and look to the future with renewed optimism.
When children are taken into care, there are several options as to who should look after them. This includes kinship care when a child is looked after by relatives. Living with foster families is a common option and the one that most people have heard of and understand.
But there are instances in which looked after children need another kind of foster care, such as that delivered in a residential home.
Whilst this meets their needs in the immediate term, there comes a time when living with a family becomes the better option. Effectively this is what restart fostering is all about – helping looked after young people to live in a family and the larger community.
The Restart Fostering programme
Restart carers do something remarkable – they help a young person with a traumatic past to start again. And they do this by engaging them in home and family life and in the community too. It is a programme delivered sensitively, taking into account cultural needs alongside their own need for support.
It has the same objective as all kinds of foster care: to provide a foundation from which a young person can continue to thrive and make their way in the world.
How to become a Restart foster carer
Restart foster carers have experience of the foster care system or come from a professional background, such as working with young people who have challenging or distinct behavioural needs.
It is an intense process but one that yields fantastic results for the young people concerned. Supported by an experienced foster carer, they make great leaps in living with a foster family.
In the first 12 months of the placement, foster carers and the young person are giving increased support.
The first stage lasts for 6 weeks and is an intensive time, during which there are constant checks made that the carer and young person are ideally matched.
The second stage lasts for 12 weeks and during this time, the restart foster carer and young person are allocated 20 hours of support per week. Again, the aim is to continue the successful transition from institutionalised care to the family.
In the third stage, which again lasts for 12 weeks, the support given is slowly peeled back, dropping to 15 hours a week. During this time, the restart foster carer also gets six nights of respite care. This acknowledges the fact that up to this point, the contact between carer and the young person has been intense and full on. As well as giving the carer a ‘rest’, it also encourages the young person to expand their own support circle.
The final stage lasts for up to 28 weeks. Like the previous stage, it consists of regular review meetings and paid respite care. There will still be a scaffold of support around the young person and their foster family, from the placing agency as well as the social worker.
Do restart foster care packages work?
Restart fostering has proved a successful intervention and bridge for young people to leave residential or an institutional care setting and re-enter the family setting..
It is an intensive process, led and steered by specially trained foster carers who have a deep understanding of the needs of their foster child. And it is making a difference, allowing young people to thrive and become well-rounded adults in spite of their traumatic start in life.
Active Care Solutions are a faith-based fostering service who successful place children with amazing foster carers.