Celebrating 25 years of disability fostering

disability fostering celebration

Callout for new disability carers to mark 25 year anniversary

This year is a very special landmark for our award winning Foster Care team as it’s 25 years since the specialist disability carers scheme was launched. We celebrated the occasion with an inspiring anniversary event in the City Chambers this week where current carers came together with their children, to share their experiences, successes, and stories.

To mark the anniversary, the Foster with Edinburgh disability service is calling out for new disability foster carers in an online and social media advertising campaign. The foster team will also be out and about spreading the word about fostering at a roadshow of events at Asda, John Lewis and Edinburgh Leisure venues, kicking off on 22 March.

The service is looking for carers for children with a wide range of additional needs, some who will depend on carers for their physical care.

Over the years, the service has supported 100s of children previously ‘lost’ in residential care to enable them to grow up in caring family situations in their communities.  In the past, many children went into residential care, initially for short periods to help with a family crisis such as the birth of a brother or sister or ill health of a parent, but ended up staying for years. Some were in residential units due to child protection concerns, or due to complex needs and challenging behaviour.

At that time,  there were no full-time carers for children with disabilities, and the goal of the new service was to find families for these children. However, few foster carers had the additional skills and experience needed. The specialist disability service was launched with the aim of recruiting full-time carers who had previous experience of supporting children with disabilities. They received enhanced fees to cover the additional costs associated with the role.

Now, 25 years on, the service has grown considerably and many carers now foster mainstream children alongside children with disabilities. This benefits everyone, allowing brothers and sisters to stay together.

Carole Ferrigan has been part of the disability foster team for almost two decades:

It has been my privilege to work with some amazing carers over the past 19 years, and to witness the life changing care they have provided, often against the odds. Resilience, tenacity and humour are key characteristics of disability carers. Through support and development groups and their own informal networks there is a strong sense of belonging and a shared identity.

So what does being a disability foster carer involve?

Fostering children with disabilities involves caring for a child with additional needs, either on a short term, permanent or short breaks basis. Short breaks carers play a vital role, enabling regular planned breaks for families which can make all the difference, allowing everyone to ‘recharge their batteries’.

Some children may need a high level of supervision and care to help them reach their full potential. Caring for a child with disabilities can put extra pressure on families. However, our carers tell us that the rewards of the role far outweigh these challenges.

Jane and Joe, disability foster carers for 35 years, have no regrets: 

Fostering has enhanced our lives and we’re delighted that we have been able to make a  positive difference to many children and their families.

The service is looking for new carers, particularly those who have transferable skills or knowledge in caring or working with children with disabilities. However, this isn’t essential as full training is given.

All our foster carers are amazing with the love and support they provide for our most vulnerable children. They are a true inspiration with the life-changing care they provide. If you would like to join our team please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Read Jane and Joe’s story.

Find out more about becoming a foster carer with the City of Edinburgh.

Published: 15th March 2024