Credo Care is working on an innovative Residential Migration project in partnership with Staffordshire and Hertfordshire County Councils, young people and parents for the Department of Education. It takes a population view securing a profile of the needs of disabled children in the area and using this to inform the local recruitment and training strategies that deliver specialist foster care placements. The partners will take a systemic approach, energising the care system to utilise these foster care placements as an alternative to residential care and re-aligning their current policy and practice to change the context and culture of care planning, supporting recruitment activity, promoting foster care friendly policies and practice.
Kayla is a child who is profoundly disabled with a high level of complex needs; physical disabilities, tracheotomy and gastrostomy dependent, sensory impairments and frequent seizures. She spent most of her first year in hospital and, when discharged, a placement was identified in a high-cost children's facility providing 24-hour care.
Both the Local Authority and Kayla's birth family saw the benefit of placing Kayla in a family environment with professional specialist foster carers. They approached Credo Care, and their staff carefully matched Kayla to carers who already had extensive experience with young people with similar complex needs and Credo Care supported works to their home to meet her mobility requirements.
Kayla's new carers had experience working closely with consultant paediatricians through other children in their care, and realised that her seizures were milder than previously assumed. Through careful involvement with Credo Care, Local Authority staff, other professional and the birth family, Kayla's medication was tailored to better suit her conditions. This along with the holistic specialist care provided by her carers, led to Kayla becoming more responsive to music, weather changes, light and other stimulation within her environment, changes that have been noted by Kayla's carers, teachers and social worker as positive achievements that support her emotional and educational progress. Kayla's quality of life has improved and will continue to do so.
The Local Authority Social Worker said:
"The foster placement is very positive. The carers have years of experience with children who have medical needs similar to Kayla's. She seems calm and contented. Her seizures have reduced and she no longer needs oxygen during the day most of the time. She is putting on weight and growing well."
"In placement Kayla is a little girl first and foremost and relationships with carers and other family members have developed well... Kayla has quickly become an integral part of her foster family."
Jamie was referred to Credo Care as a 4-year-old with autism and global development delay. Due to the circumstances surrounding his Care Order, Jamie was displaying a number of challenging behaviours, including self-harm and an undeveloped sense of dangers around him, and was unable to express himself verbally. He became frustrated often when he was unable to be understood, and his environment reinforced his negative behaviours.
Credo Care worked through a thorough matching process, and eventually found a match with newly approved carers who had previous experience in NHS community support work, and voluntary experience working with adults with autism and learning difficulties. The carers were provided a significant and comprehensive support package surrounding the placement to ensure Jamie's transition to his new home was as smooth and positive as possible.
Alongside the overnight sitting and positive activity sessions, Jamie's new carers were assigned a professional Autism & Behaviour Specialist. She was able to mentor and support them through the transitional period. She provided a Positive Behaviour Support Plan for the carers, school teachers and social workers to follow, including visual timetables, positive reinforcement strategies, sensory diets and hydrotherapy which all contributed to Jamie's extremely nurturing and supportive early days and weeks in placement.
Jamie thrived in his placement, his behaviours improving quickly and his potential for speech starting to grow. He remains in regular contact with his birth family, who agree that Jamie has found a place very suited to his needs and are very happy to see him developing. Jamie and his carers continue to receive support – Jamie is taken out for organised activities and carers receive supervision and refresher coaching to enable them to deliver the continued improvement in behaviours.
Jamie remains in placement and has now been with the carers for 16 months, and he continues to thrive.
Jamie’s Social Worker fed back about his placement:
"Jamie has now moved into his new long-term foster placement, and although he has only been with his carers for a short time, he appears to be very settled and very much at home with them. During his review he could seen to be running around and is indeed trying to formulate words."
"The placement has a great support package in place from the agency, which includes professional support and respite provided by trusted alternative carers. He is responding well to the consistent routines and boundaries in place and is using his helmet less and less. He has accepted the suggested change from using a bath to the shower, and he absolutely loves it; when in there he giggles away to himself!"
Warren was a young teenager with autism and a severe learning disability when he came into care from a secure boarding school. He had a few challenging behaviours, and the school required a placement for weekends and school holidays. Credo Care were able to closely match Warren to specialist foster carers, who had a wealth of specialised experience with autistic children, a loving and open family, and a spare room for Warren to call his own on his short breaks.
Warren thrived in this environment, and became an integral part to the family, forming close ties with both the birth children and other foster child in the household, while also being given clear and appropriate boundaries and positive reinforcement systems. Warren continued to exhibit challenging behaviour at school and it became apparent to the Local Authority staff, the professionals at the school and Credo staff that his current educational setting was not the right one for him. Warren’s behaviour appeared to be the result of his mimicking the behaviour of his peers in the residential setting.
Warren's carers were keen to welcome him into a full-time placement in order for Warren to transition to a local special needs school, as it was clear to all parties that Warren would respond well to a family environment. A few months later Warren was settling into the carer's home in a long term placement.
Warren developed into a lovely young man through the careful involvement of the boundaries set by his foster family, and they continued to work with him in his transition to independence. After turning 18, Warren was able to continue with Credo Care and his foster family through our staying-put scheme, while also completing further study at college. When he was 22, Warren went on to community living in a small group home.
The Social Worker had this to say:
"Warren has made enormous progress in the placement. Although on the autistic spectrum, his behaviour has been well managed by his carers who have set clear boundaries and systems for reinforcing positive behaviours. He has developed into a polite well-mannered young person who is able to socialise and have empathy for others, despite his diagnosis."