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"You don’t need to be special to foster. But it does makes you feel special."

Janice Coy and husband

Monday 4 January 2021

This January, Essex County Council are renewing their commitment to securing the best outcomes for children in care by integrating a new trauma informed therapeutic training programme across the whole service.

The training will be made available to anyone who may come into contact with a child in care – giving them a ‘trauma lens’ to better understand their experiences and how to support them. Essex County Council have adapted quickly to the challenges of Covid-19 with the training sessions being switched to online delivery.

The programme has been developed due to the overwhelming evidence that the outcomes for children who have suffered trauma are much better if they live with families and are parented in a trauma informed way.

Whilst fostering can be transformational for children who have experienced a traumatic upbringing it can be just as life changing for the foster carers themselves.

Janice and Colin, from Rayleigh in Essex, have been fostering for 16 years and currently have a 13-year-old boy in their care.

Since receiving trauma informed therapeutic support the couple say that they have begun to see how they can not only care for their foster son but repair that trauma he has been through too.

“Fostering isn’t all hugs and smiles - it can be incredibly challenging. But that certainly makes it more rewarding. You don’t need to be special to foster. But it does makes you feel special.

It is so rewarding to see a child grow in confidence. To go from being so shy, compliant, withdrawn and fearful of asking for anything, even a glass of water, as they were scared of what the reaction might be, to chatting about things and not afraid to ask questions”.

As part of the integrated trauma informed therapeutic training programme, foster carers will have access to a team of professionals, including Mental Health Coordinators and Principal Clinical and Counselling Psychologists. Foster carers also get a dedicated social worker and access to support networks including peer to peer, 24/hr support line, respite, and lots of training packages, including bespoke training to the individual.

Essex County Council’s Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Barbara Canepa said: “Moving forward, our aim is to recruit people who want to work therapeutically with children. Our goal is to help give children in care the best possible environment in which to feel safe and secure, and to go on to thrive.

We see foster carers as the agents of that change, and our role is to give them the knowledge, support and tools with which to heal the trauma and transform the lives of the children and young people they care for”.

Foster carers can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired. It can be undertaken on a part-time basis alongside a full-time job or offered as a full-time role, both always with the full support of Essex County Council.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said: All children deserve to feel safe, secure and be nurtured. Our foster carers help build better, brighter futures for hundreds of children across Essex every year.  We need more foster carers, like Janice and Colin, to foster on a full and part-time basis”.

Janice and Colin believe that a willingness to learn and take on board different ways of working is key to successfully helping foster children overcome their trauma and be able to move onto a positive future.

“Incorporating trauma informed therapeutic training into everyday life is key to this. Where I would normally react instantly with ‘What did you do that for?!’ I instead pause and ask, ‘I wonder why you did that?’ I’m much more mindful of my words and think about how my response may trigger a negative reaction”. 

My life is very different to the one I led before fostering, working in the city; it is so much better and has changed me in every way”.

Children in care have often experienced trauma in their past and need foster carers who can help them to heal. Essex County Council are encouraging people to watch this video, inspired by foster children from around Essex, to understand how they bring back the light into a child’s life and set them on a path for a better future. Watch a video inspired by Essex children in care

Find out more by visiting our website or call our friendly team on 0800 801 530. We are operating under COVID-safe guidelines throughout our service