Council calls for more carers for young people in care

Fostering in Devon

Posted on: 7 October 2016

Government statistics show that the number of looked after children has continued to increase over the past eight years to a high of 70,440 at 31 March 2016. The vast majority (74%) are cared for in foster placements.

The research also shows a steady increase in the number of older children being looked after, with the largest group (62%) aged 10 to 15 years, followed by those aged 16 years and over.

The national trend is reflected locally, and it’s prompted Devon County Council’s Fostering Devon service to urgently recruit more foster carers for older children, including specialist DYPAS (Devon’s Young People Accommodation Service) carers.

DYPAS is a supported lodgings accommodation scheme for young people in care, aged 16–18, who are not yet ready to live on their own.

The service offers young people the opportunity to live in the home of a host carer who can help prepare them for independent living. This gives them a safe and supportive environment where they can develop the practical skills and emotional maturity to move on and cope with living independently.

Fostering Devon would like to hear from anyone with a willingness to support a young person, who has a spare room and a positive attitude. Training and full support is available for the role, working with other professionals in giving emotional and practical support to teenagers who may have mental health issues, possibly be known to the criminal system or misused substances.

Lindsay is a DYPAS host carer and an approved foster carer. She’s been fostering young people, including teenagers, for over 22 years and can’t imagine life without it.

She says that you need patience, resilience and a sense of humour, but also that Fostering Devon is there to offer their full support in return.

“We have been fostering ever since my own daughter was small,” says Lindsay.

“With DYPAS it’s about getting the boundaries right – so the young people know you care about them and they care about you, but there are boundaries that should be there for a 16, 17 or 18-year-old.

“I encourage them to keep clean, show them how to take care of themselves and try to help them budget with their food. They don’t arrive good at budgeting or cooking so I give them advice and help. They all have their own rooms to keep tidy and when they are older they have their own cupboard and shelf in the fridge, to encourage them to live independently.

“My role is also to guide them through education as they stay in education now until they are 18. We also need to keep them safe with regards to the internet and grooming. We make sure they are talking to the right people and also teach them about alcohol and drugs. There’s also the normal stuff – like washing and ironing.

“DYPAS has a brilliant support team that you can call on and because I am a foster carer as well I also get help from support workers and a social worker that comes to see me and the children too. There’s also a ‘wrap-around’ service to check if there are any issues with the placement.

“I can’t imagine life without it. If you’re considering it – just give it a go!”, says Lindsay.

cllr-james-mcinnesCouncillor James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the fostering service said:

“We currently have 41 DYPAS households across Devon, and we need to increase this by a further 10 to match the growing demand for the service. The most important thing is that you like being with teenagers and have an understanding of some of the issues they may face, as well as the time and flexibility to offer advice and support.

“In return you will receive a competitive reward package, ongoing training, support and supervision and the opportunity to make a positive difference to a young person’s life.”

For more information about the DYPAS scheme and other types of fostering including child and parent placements, mainstream, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum seeking children contact Devon County Council’s Fostering Devon team on 0345 155 1077 to request an information pack, or email: fostering@devon.gov.uk.

To find out more, visitthe Fostering Devon website.

You can read the full interview with Lindsay (not her real name) on the Fostering Devon website.

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