YouGov survey for Quarriers Fostering Service
YouGov survey for charity Quarriers finds only just over a quarter of potential Scots foster carers would consider a child with multiple disabilities and complex needs
Severely disabled children in Scotland are left on the foster care shelf, research for charity Quarriers has revealed.
A YouGov survey – commissioned to launch a recruitment drive for carers for Quarriers’s new fostering service and coinciding with Foster Care Fortnight which starts today (Monday 14 May) – found of those who would consider or are already fostering only a quarter (26 per cent) would take a child with multiple disabilities and complex needs.
This is in stark contrast to children with less complex disabilities. More than half of those potential carers polled (55 per cent) would consider a child with a cognitive disability (for example learning difficulties), while 51 per cent said they would foster a child with a disability linked to mobility. The proportion dropped to two-fifths (40 per cent) for children with serious emotional or behavioural problems.
Exhaustion (48 per cent) and the fear of not getting enough support (47 per cent) were the main reasons given by potential foster carers who would not or were unsure if they would want to have a disabled child placed with them.
Quarriers’s new fostering service is aimed at increasing the number of placements for severely disabled children drawing on the charity’s extensive experience of providing services such as short breaks across Scotland.
Liz Hamilton, fostering service co-ordinator at Quarriers, admitted the results of the survey were disappointing and urged more foster carers to consider disabled children.
She said: “Severely disabled children face extreme challenges every day of their lives and it seems so unfair the odds are stacked against those in the care system when it comes to finding a foster care placement.
“I would urge potential foster carers see past the barriers to ensure the hardest-to-place children get an opportunity to benefit from family life.
“Quarriers has decades of experience supporting birth families support their disabled children and can use this expertise to offer foster carers a complete support network to ensure they have all they need to sustain a placement.”
Ann Clarke, who runs a residential project for children with emotional and behavioural problems at Quarriers, became a short-term foster carer for children with disabilities five years ago after being asked to find a placement for a child with a terminal illness to give her foster parents a break.
The 50-year-old from Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire was unable to take the two-year-old girl and this weighed on her mind for weeks.
“It felt awful knowing the foster family must have been going through such a tough time to have asked for some respite support and yet I couldn’t take the child in my project as it was at full capacity,” said Ann.
“I decided that if I couldn’t do it in my professional capacity I would become a respite foster carer for other foster carers of children with severe disabilities or emotional and behavioural problems to give them a break.
“It can be tough but working with children with disabilities is extremely rewarding – both professionally and as foster carer.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,008 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10 and 12 April 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+). Foster Care Fortnight is an annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and attract new carers.
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