28 Feb 2019
Following the development of one of the UK’s most comprehensive foster care services last year, a partnership between Kibble and the University of Strathclyde will now look to scale up the approach by developing a toolkit that matches the level of support to the child.
Shared Living Foster Care aims to reduce the number of traumatised children living in residential care in Scotland under the age of 11 whom had experienced five or more placements (54 in 2017).
Four children are currently accessing the service with a further two expected to be cared for by shared living foster carers in April this year. Of the four children currently cared for through the project, two came from children’s care homes, while two siblings avoided being accommodated in residential school care.
An easy to use toolkit that allows children’s panels to review a young person’s experiences of trauma and match their needs with a service will be developed as part of the next phase, funded by the Scottish Government’s Social Innovation Fund.
In most cases a child will be cared for in either foster or residential care, however for those who have experienced severe trauma from early years, the shift patterns of staff and the mix of other children in residential will not be the best suit for the child, while dysregulatory behaviour will mean they can’t maintain a foster placement.
Shared Living has been developed as a direct response to this, creating a hybrid between residential and foster care to provide an extra layer of support for a foster family. External staff will come into the home at a certain time that is difficult for that child, for example getting ready for school, having a bath or getting ready for bed, while the initiative also aims to keep siblings that have experienced trauma within the one home.
ACEs such as sexual, emotional and physical abuse, foetal alcohol syndrome, and exposure to drug use will be mapped out to examine the combination of the trauma experienced to determine the most appropriate care arrangements – something that doesn’t currently exist in Scotland. The new toolkit will assess children through the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) they have experienced, and the behaviours they are exhibiting, to review their needs and create a care and support model that has been specifically tailored to them.
Speaking to the Disability Advisory Forum at the Scottish Government recently, the Shared Living team looked at the idea of using the same care service for children living with a disability as the best approach for keeping them within a foster family. There is also a small, but significant, population who have a disability and have also experienced trauma that would hugely benefit from this approach.
Kay Gibson, operations manager at Kibble, said: “The children that we see move from home to home have not only experienced their own level of trauma, but have had another layer added from the system with various broken-down placements.
“It’s therefore imperative that we make a change to the current system and create a new approach to give a child a stable family home, allowing them to remain in one place with a significant amount of support from external staff that can be altered and moved around their needs.
“We’re thrilled to be launching phase three as we scale up with the hope of helping more children by providing a safe and appropriate family home that can address past trauma and prevent the opportunity to experience more.
“As we move forward with phase three it’s absolutely vital that we look at recruiting more foster carers so we can provide comfort, safety and support for some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.”