Becoming a foster carer to a child with special needs can be a very rewarding experience, but it also comes with some unique responsibilities. Whether you are an experienced foster carer or are new to the role, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of your foster child’s additional needs and the support that they may require. Keep reading to further explore what you need to know when fostering a child with special needs, including the different types of special needs and the support you can access.
Understanding Special Needs
The term ‘special needs’ or ‘additional needs’ refers to any requirement a child may have that is beyond the norm. This could include a physical disability, cognitive or learning disability, behavioural or emotional disorder, developmental delay, neurodivergence, or medical conditions. It’s essential to understand that each child is unique and may have a combination of different special needs. Before you foster with an agency such as Orange Grove Foster Care, you will be provided with as much information as possible about the special needs your foster child may have.
Additional Support and Resources
One of the main things to understand when caring for a foster child with special needs is that they may require additional support, resources, and accommodations to thrive. For example, this might include educational support, specialised medical care, a certain home environment, or counselling and therapy. You should work closely with the child’s social worker, healthcare providers, educators and other professionals to ensure that these needs are being met.
Where to Get Support as a Foster Carer
Caring for a foster child with special needs is very rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming at times. The good news is that there is lots of support available for foster carers who have opened their home to a child with special needs. Some of the support services you’ll be able to access include:
- Financial support: In order to allow you to prioritise caring for your foster child without worrying about money, you may be able to access larger financial support packages, designed to enable you to pay for everything they need to thrive.
- Training and development: Before you take on the care of a foster child with special needs, you will be required to complete training and development courses to ensure you have the required knowledge and skills. Along with this, ongoing training and development opportunities will also be available including courses and workshops that focus on caring for children with special needs.
- Social workers: You will have a designated social worker or team of social workers who are there to provide support and guidance throughout the process. You can go to them for support with navigating any challenges that might arise and connect you with any additional resources you feel may help.
- Peer support: You may find it helpful to find support groups for foster carers, particularly those that focus on children with special needs in foster care. This gives you a chance to build your support network by connecting with others in a similar situation as yourself.
Fostering a child with special needs is massively rewarding, but it’s not always easy. By understanding the support that is available to you and how to access it, you can give your foster child the care that they deserve.