There are as many types of fostering as there are reasons why children enter the care system. Every case is unique, requiring different skills and training, and we encourage you to explore all possibilities before making an application.
In this blog, we explore one avenue of care in a bit more detail – therapeutic fostering. We answer all your questions, including:
- What’s the difference between foster care and therapeutic foster care?
- What are the needs of children in therapeutic foster care?
- How do you become a therapeutic foster carer?
- How much are therapeutic foster carers paid?
As you read, keep in mind that caring for the most vulnerable children is a truly life-changing and rewarding endeavour. Of course, like other types of fostering, there are challenges. However, the joy you experience from changing a young person’s life for the better can never be equalled.
What’s the difference between foster care and therapeutic foster care?
There’s an ever-growing demand for foster carers in the UK, especially those who possess the qualities and commitment to look after children with additional needs.
While most children in care display varying degrees of challenging behaviour until they settle into their new home, children in therapeutic care often arrive from the most extreme environments. Sadly, many have suffered from severe abuse, leading to developmental delays and long-term trauma.
Alongside a team of medical professionals, therapeutic foster carers have to provide extra assistance to keep these children safe. Agencies generally prefer two-adult households, with one person available 24/7 to respond to crises.
Besides needs and level of support, another critical difference lies in training. Therapeutic carers are responsible for implementing therapeutic interventions within the home and working with specialists to help children integrate into the wider community. Consequently, they must have a thorough understanding of complex social, emotional and physical needs.
What are the needs of children in therapeutic foster care?
Understanding the needs of children in care will prepare you and your family for the journey ahead. Alongside kindness, patience and transparency, there are a few unique considerations to keep in mind when it comes to therapeutic fostering.
1. Structured environment
All children crave structure because it creates a sense of normalcy and safety. It’s especially crucial for children in therapeutic care who’ve come from chaotic, dangerous and ever-changing backgrounds.
Structure means children know what to expect – life is stable with predictable activities, people and behaviours. By keeping a routine, you can avoid surprises and triggers that may cause your foster child distress.
What’s more, children gain freedom within a structured environment. When they’re not worried or frightened about what comes next, they have more headspace to play, create and communicate.
2. 24/7 around the clock care
As mentioned previously, therapeutic fostering involves a higher level of attention and care. You must be available 24/7 to intervene in emergencies and administer therapeutic inventions (more on these next).
Before making an application, evaluate how much time you have to give. Primary caregivers can’t work outside the home, and someone always has to be physically and emotionally present for the foster child. If you have children of your own, think about whether it’s possible to split your time accordingly.
3. Therapeutic interventions
Abuse and neglect can have a long-lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of young people. It can also lead to mental health illnesses like depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Therapeutic interventions are specific methods of response designed to heal trauma. While they don’t “fix” problems, they are an essential part of recovery alongside more comprehensive emotional support.
Let’s say a child’s in the middle of an angry outburst, therapeutic interventions may distract them from the source of their anger towards a more calming activity. It may include drawing a picture to explain how they feel, taking ten deep breaths or scheduling an emergency counselling appointment.
Every intervention is different, and healthcare providers will assess your foster child to establish what’s best for them. They will always be on hand to help you to provide expert and tailored support in the home environment.
How do you become a therapeutic foster carer?
Therapeutic carers play a double role in providing a loving family home where a child can simply be and a therapeutic environment to assist with their road to recovery. Therefore, the application process is a little more in-depth to ensure you have the right skills and qualities.
You can start the journey to become a foster carer in a few straightforward steps. However, with therapeutic placements, you must also undergo additional training and work more closely with healthcare providers.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but rest assured, we’re here to help every step of the way. With Olive Branch Fostering, you’ll have access to a qualified team of support workers around the clock who provide guidance, support and assistance.
How much are therapeutic foster carers paid?
All carers receive an allowance to cover the cost of raising a child. The minimum is usually between £134 to £235 a week, although this changes depending on your private agency or local authority.
However, you’ll receive competitive fees when caring for children with complex needs. The increase recognises the additional training, skills and experience you need to take on this type of placement.
Usually, therapeutic foster carers with advanced skills can receive up to £575 per week (figures are an approximation).
Become a therapeutic foster carer with Olive Branch Fostering
If you’re patient, dedicated and kind beyond measure, you have what it takes to become a therapeutic foster carer.
We’ll assist you with the right training and courses, so you don’t have to have any qualifications before making an application. Plus, you’re never alone. We offer a team of support workers, groups and more to help with the transition and beyond.
To begin your fostering journey, contact our friendly team or call us on 01706 558910. We’re always happy to talk through your queries and provide more information – there’s no obligation to go any further.