Could you provide a home for a vulnerable child?
Allan shares his goal
A social worker is appealing to residents in Kirklees in the hope of finding long-term foster families for 60 vulnerable children in need of a stable home.
Allan Scott, who works as a children’s social worker at Kirklees Council has spoken about some of the difficulties faced by children in care, many of whom come from the most traumatic of backgrounds. Despite their need to be part of a loving family many are missing out because of a lack of long-term foster carers.
More about Olivia
12 year-old Olivia (not her real name) is one of the children under Allan’s care and remains one of the borough’s most urgent cases. Her early years, spent living on the south coast of England, were marred by neglect and she witnessed domestic violence and drug misuse. She also became a mother figure to her younger brother, often taking charge of the cooking and cleaning.
After being placed into care five years ago she eventually went to live with extended family in Kirklees but through no fault of her own they were unable to look after her long-term and she has since had a number of short-term placements. Having overseen her care over the past year Allan is now the only constant in Olivia’s life and she needs to remain in Kirklees in order to maintain that continuity of care.
Olivia wants more than anything to settle into a loving, permanent family. But because of the shortage of local long-term foster carers she is faced with spending the rest of her childhood in residential care or in multiple short-term placements, possibly in a different area.
“In many ways Olivia is much like any other 12 year-old in that she’s dealing with the all the usual issues that come with adolescence. But with every new placement she thinks she’s found her forever home and when she realises this isn’t the case it chips away at her. She sees every move as a rejection.
“Understandably Olivia’s experiences have left her with some emotional issues. But given everything she’s been through you’d expect her to have all sorts of problems but this isn’t the case at all. I’ve got to know Olivia well over the past year and she’s a joy to be around; she’s extremely bright, funny and loves life. Put simply, she’s beyond resilient.
“She used to play for an under 12’s football league team and she has dreams of becoming a vet one day. I’ve seen many children defy the odds and go on to succeed both in life and academically and I’ve no doubt that Olivia has the potential to do the same. But to help her achieve this she needs the support that only a permanent, loving family can offer.
“Olivia would benefit most from being part of a two-parent family in or around Kirklees. She loves being around other children so a bigger family, where she’d be the oldest child, would be ideal for her. For the right family we would provide a full package of ongoing training and support.”
During his seven years at the local authority, Allan has advocated on behalf of numerous children in care, ensuring that they remain at the heart of his role.
What are foster children like?
He adds: “Children in care are some of the most vulnerable you’ll ever meet. They’ve usually experienced cruelty or neglect from the people they should have been able to trust the most. They often feel alone so need someone who’ll really believe in them. As a social worker I can help provide some of that hope and reassurance but this is just a starting point and no substitute for being part of a permanent family unit.
“Our short-term foster carers do an amazing job however finding a long-term foster family for a child is a process. As in Olivia’s case a child is usually placed with a short-term family until long-term arrangements can be made but there simply aren’t enough long-term carers. Just imagine how any child would feel in this situation as everything and everyone they’ve ever known keeps changing. This why we urgently need more people who care enough to invest in a child’s future to come forward. If anyone thinks they can help Olivia, or one of the other 59 children in our care, please get in touch.”
Want to find out more about long-term fostering?
To speak to Kirklees Council’s fostering team call 0800 389 0086 or visit http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/fostering/about-the-children.aspx where you can read about Olivia and some of the children who are waiting for a long-term foster family.