Former police and prison officers are being urged to become “resilience foster carers” offering homes to the most challenging looked-after teenagers, as part of a Staffordshire County Council campaign.
Staffordshire's campaign is attempting to find foster homes for challenging teenagers. Image: MorgueFile
The campaign is targeting professionals that have experience in working with young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, in a bid to find foster homes for 10- to 18-year-olds currently in residential care.
In many cases, the children have been abused or neglected by their birth parents, and have had previous unsuccessful foster care placements.
Staffordshire’s lead member for children’s wellbeing, Mike Lawrence, said the council is hoping to encourage people who have experience of working with troubled children to consider a career in foster care.
“We have built up a network of foster carers who can provide stable homes for the majority of children who come into our care,” he said.
“However, it is vital that we find the right foster carers to support those children with the most challenging behavioural and emotional needs through the most vulnerable periods of their lives.
“Research shows that the stability of a family environment can help them to reach their potential in later life. The resilience foster care campaign aims to find those special people who can provide the intensive care and support needed to help these young people make the transition into adulthood.”
To support the campaign, the council has produced a video entitled Seeing Potential, Changing Lives. It features local foster carers talking about their experiences.
One of the couples featured is Tom Wardle, a retired policeman, and his wife Anne, a former health visitor, who decided to become resilience foster carers after fostering for more than 14 years.
Tom Wardle said: “As a police officer I would see first-hand where troubled teens end up. It became clear that their bad behaviour was a sign that what they needed was a stable home life rather than prosecution.
Anne Wardle added: “As a foster carer you are helping to give a child a normal family life and that alone can make a real difference in their life and future.”
There are approximately 931 children in Staffordshire County Council’s care. Two thirds of these children are in foster placements. It is estimated that at least 65 new foster families need to be found in the area over the next three years.
Nationally, the number of children in care who need foster homes has risen every year for the last five years. At least 9,000 new foster families will be needed across the UK during 2013.