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Lewisham appeals for specialist foster carers for disabled children

To mark the start of Disability History Month, Lewisham Council is appealing to residents to become foster carers for children with complex needs.

Children with complex needs have an illness, disability or sensory impairments that means they need significant daily support. There are currently 20 children with complex needs who are in the care of the Council. Only two of these children are placed with local foster carers.

Lewisham Council is launching this appeal to tackle this inequality to make sure disabled children in care have a chance to stay near the people and places they know and grow up in a home environment.

The national shortage of foster carers disproportionately affects children with complex needs as services struggle to match children with foster families that can meet their needs. As a result, children with complex needs are more likely to be placed out of area and five times more likely to be placed in residential housing.

Living with a specialist foster carer can lead to significantly improved health outcomes for children with complex needs. Residents with a healthcare background are well-placed to become specialist carers. Nurses and healthcare assistants nearing retirement may consider using their skillset to give a local child a safe home.

However, a healthcare background is not a requirement to become a specialist carer as Lewisham Council offers a robust training and support package that is tailored specifically for the needs of each child.

Cllr Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:

“Lewisham children need residents to open their hearts and homes to give them a safe environment to grow and reach their full potential, no matter their background or ability. I hope to see more Lewisham children placed with Lewisham foster carers. The benefits of keeping Lewisham children local are clear - they can maintain safe contact with friends and family and stay near the places they know.

"Having quality care adds years to a young person’s life and can be the difference between having a chance to live in a home and attending school and spending their lives in a hospital bed. The life these foster carers can offer children with complex needs is invaluable”

If you think you could make a difference in a child’s life contact Lewisham Council for an informal discussion on 0800 015 0129 or email at fosteringrecruitment@lewisham.gov.uk.

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About fostering children with complex needs

Children with complex and development needs have an illness, disability or sensory impairments that means they need significant daily support. In caring for these children, you will be offering specialist care to support their medical needs. Welcoming these children in your home will give them a chance to grow up in a home environment with the medical care they need.

Caring for complex needs can feel challenging, but the rewards are immense and can lead to significant positive health outcomes for the child.

Read foster carer Jackie’s story here about how dedication and care give a disabled child a new chance at life.

Support and training

Residents with a healthcare background are well-placed to become specialist carers. Nurses and healthcare assistants nearing retirement may consider using their skill-sets to give a local child a safe home. However, a healthcare background is not a requirement to become a specialist carer as Lewisham Council offers a robust training and support package that is tailored specifically for the needs of each child.

The support package for each child is based on their needs. There may be funding support to aid the child in a new home, like wheel-chair accessibility. There are many professionals at Lewisham to support foster carers including healthcare workers, social care staff, and other foster carers. Foster carers can also receive respite support. Visit our training and support page to find out more.

Allowances

Lewisham offers competitive weekly tax-free allowance to foster carers. There are additional sources of funding to support the child including from education and Disability Living Allowance. When you become a Lewisham foster carer you are placed with one of our support social workers who can help you apply for these extra allowances.

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