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What is specialist foster care?

Specialist foster carers give children with complex needs a placement in their family. Sometimes, the foster child may already be in a residential placement. Other times, they might be at risk of being placed in residential care. With your help and support, they could live or continue to live in a family setting.

Foster children with complex needs require a higher level of support than many other children. For example, they might need extra help with managing their emotions or behaviour.

Have you got what it takes?

It is crucial that children with complex needs are fostered by people with a professional background or experience working with children with similar needs. If you have ever worked in health and social care, education, the Gardai or a similar role, you could have what it takes to help. You will need to be available to foster full time, have a supportive network around you and be able to work as part of professional team. As with all foster carers you will undergo an assessment process and will be required to complete a number of checks such as Garda vetting, medicals.

In return, we will provide you with a generous, enhanced weekly fostering allowance and intensive packages of support. You will benefit from significant ongoing support including therapeutic, education and child care specialists, 24/7 access to a social worker, regular  training and become part of a great community of FFI foster carers.

Meet John, Colin, Jackie, Ella and Alison. All these children have something in common – they need specialist care to help them trust again. Have you got the skills to help children like them develop into happy, confident young people?

John has had to move around a lot

John is bright and engaging. But he has some difficult days where he struggles with his behaviour. He needs someone to help him know how to manage these situations when they happen. John has had to move around a lot, and he can find it hard to trust his carers and feel safe.

Colin is recovering from early childhood trauma

Colin is currently cared for in a residential unit. He has PTSD as a result of significant trauma in his early childhood. Colin has issues with attachment and struggles with making strong connections with people in his life.

Although Colin can be distrustful at first, once he gets to know you he is warm and engaging. He is also working in managing his behaviour, as he can struggle when he does not get his own way.

In the past, Colin has had periods where he has self-harmed and had physical altercations with his carers. But he has had clinical support to help him in these areas, and he is really improving. He may need ongoing therapeutic support to help him transition into family life. In the past, art therapy and equine therapy have been very positive for Colin.

Jackie needs stability and routine

Jackie is 14, and been in care since 2013. She’s bright and bubbly, with a great sense of humour. Taking into account her childhood experiences, Jackie needs a family who can commit to providing her with extensive emotional support.

Jackie would do best being the youngest child in a foster family, living with carers who have experience in parenting. She needs a placement that can offer her stability and routine, which is why we feel fostering is the best option for Jackie.

Ella needs lots of one-to-one attention

Ella is 10 and loves taking part in activities, playing games, dancing, athletics and art. She has a good sense of humour and lots of energy.

Ella also has complex emotional and behavioural needs. Because she had difficulties in her early years and had a number of family placements, Ella has attachment difficulties and she struggles with making connections. Ella may be overfamiliar with people and maybe demanding of attention to ensure she feels she is supported.

Ella is slow to trust adults and she tests boundaries. She also finds a normal educational structure challenging. Currently, Ella is on a reduced school timetable and spends most of her day in special classes to help her with her behavioural needs. She is bright, but her comprehension is delayed and she has a slow processing speed. Her fine and gross motor skills are also delayed, and she needs occupational therapy support to help her manage movements such as writing or running.

Alison needs affection and security

Alison is nine and on her fifth foster placement in five years. She is very vulnerable with complex needs as a result of her experiences in early childhood. Her lack of stability in foster care has also caused her further trauma.

Alison’s learning needs are complex, and she has emotional and behavioural difficulties too. She comes across as friendly, chatty and active. But Alison is also hypersensitive and does not always show understanding of personal boundaries. This can lead her to be overly friendly with strangers and sometimes aggressive to her carers and peers. Alison can also be clingy with her carers and struggle when other children get their attention.

Alison responds well to routine and structure, and she’s thriving in her new school, responding well to praise and encouragement.

Alison would benefit from a placement with carers who are trained in managing her complex needs. Not just in terms of her learning disability, but her emotional needs too. Alison craves nurturing carers who can show her unconditional warmth, affection and security – ideally in a setting where she doesn’t need to compete for attention from younger children.

You have what it takes. Join our family today. Click here to find out more

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