BRIDGEND Council’s foster care team has launched a new, specialist in-house foster care service aimed at working with children and young people who find it difficult to live within a family environment owing to their experience of trauma.
The Transitional Carer Scheme involves short-term placements, on average up to 24 weeks, during which time the carer will build a one-to-one relationship with the young person, showing commitment, patience and dedication to help them to overcome barriers that may have led to the breakdown of placements in the past.
This may include helping young people to understand themselves, how their feelings may influence behaviours. Finding ways to increase a sense of belonging and enabling the young person to learn how to live within a family environment is key to a successful transition.
Transitional Carers would work within an intense package of support to enable the child to regulate their emotions and transition to a stable long-term placement. This could be a move into long term fostering, returning to birth family or relatives or onto an independent living environment.
The team are looking to recruit people who understand or who would be willing to undertake training to enable them to understand the full impact of trauma upon a child.
The role would suitable for those with a background in childcare, social care, teaching, youth work or experience in foster care. These carers will help to overcome barriers and move a young person into a long-term placement.
Debra Hill and her husband Geraint became transitional carers in January 2019.
“I have a background in behaviour management and education and Geraint has worked with young people for years, so it sounded like the right role for us.
“We also enjoy a challenge and I would definitely say that the role is just that, it’s not easy.”
However, Debra and Geraint rose to the challenge and had a very successful placement with one young person, with Debra describing her as someone who ‘stole my heart’ so now they are full-time foster carers.
“You definitely need resilience and an understanding that whatever the child does is not aimed or directed at you,” continued Debra. “It’s normally a trauma-based reaction, so people need to understand this in order to do the job efficiently.
“There will be complex issues, and this does add an extra level of challenge.”
Carers will be required to work alongside multi-disciplinary professionals, with additional mentoring and guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable carer household.
Successful applicants will need to be resilient and able to maintain a placement even in adverse or extreme circumstances and in crises with the support of a team. They will need to be motivated and enjoy facilitating and enabling a child to recover from their trauma to a level where they are able to transition to a longer-term family placement.
Transitional carers will be expected to be able to form trusting and valuable relationships with a child or young person and possess the skills and knowledge to support and apply agreed ‘trauma-informed behavioural management strategies.’
Due to the nature of the role, the fostering team will ensure that all transitional carers have extensive training before they support a young person. Transitional carers are also part of a dedicated foster care team, and they work alongside behavioural analysts, childcare hub staff, the fostering placement teams and wellbeing outreach workers.
Debra Hill added,
”Teamwork is definitely key, and that support network from Bridgend Council is important. Sometimes it can feel that you are getting nowhere, which is why you need resilience. I always remind myself of how far a child has come, even if it’s small steps.
The most rewarding part of the role is when you see a child do something that they wouldn’t possibly have done before. It could be as simple as taking their cup to the kitchen, but that shows progress with their stability.
I’ve found different levels of patience, tolerance and calm that I didn’t know I was capable of. Being a transitional carer has taught me a lot about relationships in general.”