Bridge to Foster is a highly successful wraparound package of support to enable a looked after child to move from residential care into a foster home.
Naturally this is a big step as a child is leaving behind the structures, people, places they’ve known – sometimes for many years – to become part of a family home.
While this can be a dearly-held wish for many children, it can also come with many challenges.
This move into fostering from residential care is often referred to as “step down” or “step across”, although we prefer to call it “Bridge to Foster”.
But, whichever way you talk about it, it’s a significant step in a child’s life and, when successful, has a huge positive impact their life both now and in the future.
National Fostering Group recognises how important it is to fully support children and foster carers as a child makes the important transition from residential care to a fostering home.
Our experience over many years has shown us that providing robust, personalised, flexible and structured support helps children and foster carers to build the foundations of strong relationships and attachments that will support them going forward.
We do this by providing a specialist package of support called Bridge To Foster. This is multi-layered and aims to help children build their trust, develop resilience and self-esteem and learn to manage their feelings and behaviour.
It helps foster carers to feel well-equipped, well-resourced and totally supported to enable the children to adapt to their new circumstances and start to feel like they belong. Foster carers also receive an enhanced fee in recognition of the vital role they are performing.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of it” – foster carer
Our Bridge to Foster package of support has helped our foster carers achieve a high success rate of children moving from residential to nurturing fostering homes.
We work hard to carefully match children with the right foster carer, taking into account a whole range of factors from location to the foster carer’s existing family set-up.
During the six-week planning stage, the child meets with the foster carer in a series of introductory visits and, with the help of a clinical psychologist, we identify what additional input the foster carer might need and any specialist training requirements.
Over the next 18 weeks, our teams are on hand to provide intensive support, including regular calls and visits from the supervising social worker, sessions with a clinical psychologist and dedicated Family Support Worker and tailored out of hours support.
As the child begins to settle, we move into the next phase, which continues with an enhanced level support that gradually starts to reduce over time. This phase normally lasts 28-34 weeks.
Even once the child has settled in, we continue to provide an enhanced flexible service tailored to support foster carers and children.
Uniquely, National Fostering Group agencies are supported by our Creative Care Solutions Team, whose role is to support foster carers and children as they move from residential care into a fostering home.
“It involved full collaborative working” – foster carer
This team, which includes expert staff who have a background in residential care and fostering, work with our fostering agencies and clinical teams to build and deliver personalised Bridge to Foster packages completely bespoke to each individual child and foster carer.
If you are interested in fostering, you might consider providing Bridge to Foster care for a child. The rewards are immense, as you are helping a young person to leave an institutionalised setting and become part of a safe and loving family home.
This type of fostering is not without its challenges, of course, but the support provided is designed to give you the best possible chance of success.
“It’s a proactive support model” – foster carer
If you think this type of fostering would suit you, please enquire now.
Kevin stayed with the same foster parents for more than two years while adoptive parents were sought for him. His foster parents did not know how long this search would take, so they threw themselves into doing everything they could for the little boy.
His behaviour was initially challenging. They instilled routine into his life, built strong attached relationships with him, and persevered. It was very rewarding when they started to see real changes in him.
When adoptive parents were found for Kevin, they spent time with them explaining what Kevin’s medical needs were; specialists believed he was suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome and had ADHD and dyspraxia. They also played an essential role in helping Kevin begin to trust and form relationships with his new parents. Read Kevin’s full story.
No. Even novice foster carers can become a foster carer to support a child to move from residential care as we offer intensive training and support. You will need to have commitment, dedication and a good understanding of children and their needs.
Sometimes the people who become foster carers for our Bridge to Foster service have a background in health, education, the police, residential care or wider social care.
Some people have been carers at home for a family member or simply have a range of life experiences that equip them with right attitude and resilience.
For all sorts of reasons but the overriding one is that they want to make a difference to a child’s life by offering them a place within their own family network.
If you are interested in finding more about becoming a foster carer to deliver or Bridge to Foster service, get in touch with your local fostering team.