Ensuring the health and wellbeing needs of fostered children are properly met can be a complex matter. The Fostering Network has resources, courses, publications, and helplines to help foster carers understand their own role and responsibilities and know about the most common issues that arise.
Health and wellbeing: the challenges
Some children may have moved frequently between different foster and residential placements, or they may be placed far from their home neighbourhoods, friends, and family. This can mean details of their medical history are difficult to find, while also compounding their social isolation and loss of support networks.
In addition to this, when a child is in public care the health-related responsibilities of their parents are delegated to a wide number of professionals – not only to their foster carers but also to social workers, specialist nurses, paediatricians, youth services and teachers, along with many others.
Co-ordinating this activity between a public authority and the NHS can be a complex task for anyone. However, foster carers will need to meet these challenges in order to assess, address and promote the health and wellbeing of children and young people in their care.
Speech, language, and communication needs
Communication is an important aspect of our lives. Some children, however, struggle to develop effective communication skills. It is thought that many looked after children in the care system may have unidentified communication needs.
It is crucial for foster carers to be aware of the underlying and undetected communication difficulties experienced by children and young people in their care, in addition to their emotional needs. Foster carers are well placed to support and intervene early in helping young children develop their language abilities.
Foster carers need to work hand-in-hand with health and school professionals to identify and address delays early, rather than waiting to see if they subside.
How we can help foster carers
The Fostering Network has a guide to help foster carers gain a better understanding of the issues and complexities around ensuring a child or young person’s health and wellbeing. It covers the following areas:
- the health of fostered children and young people
- assessing the health needs of looked after children
- mental health and emotional wellbeing
- sexual health
- substance abuse and misuse
- healthy eating and physical activity
medication and treatment of illness.
You can purchase our Health publication online.
We also have a Medical Treatment card pack which allows fostering services and parents to pass on the right to sign for medical treatment to carers.
Both publications are available to our members at a discounted price.
The Fostering Network can provide an in-house training course on health, tailored to meet your service’s needs. Contact our training team for more information.
Our member helplines provide confidential, independent and impartial advice for foster carers in the UK.
Our online community
Our members also have exclusive access to our online community where you can log in to share your experience and get advice from other foster carers. The community is a safe and secure area to discuss topics including being a foster carer and looking after a child, as well as advice on finances.