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Bridge to Foster

Bridge to Foster is a wraparound package of support for when a child moves from residential care into a foster home. Also known as Step Down or Step Across, it’s a highly successful approach that supports both children and foster carers for the best outcomes.

What a child needs from Bridge to Foster

Our experience over many years has shown us that robust, personalised, flexible and structured support helps children and foster carers build foundations for strong relationships and attachments that stand them in good stead for positive outcomes.

In this case, moving from residential care into a foster home is a big step. The foster 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 come with many challenges. It’s a significant step in a child’s life and, when successful, has a huge positive impact on their life now and in the future.

Bridge to Foster fully supports this important and sensitive transition. It’s a specialist, multi-layered package that aims at building trust, developing resilience and self-esteem, and helping foster children learn to manage their feelings and behaviours.

What you get from Bridge to Foster

If you are interested in fostering, you might consider providing Bridge to Foster care for a child.  The rewards are immense, as you’re 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. We want our foster carers to feel well-equipped, well-resourced and totally supported. By empowering them through Bridge to Foster, they achieve high success rates, helping children adapt to their new circumstances and really begin to thrive.

The powerhouse behind this package of support is our Creative Care Solutions Team, who support our foster carers, the children and also our local fostering agencies. This team includes expert staff who have a background in residential care and fostering.

They 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.

Foster carers who undertake Bridge to Foster placements receive an enhanced fostering allowance in recognition of the skilled role. We offer intensive training too, so even if you’re a novice foster carer, you can still Bridge to Foster.

The 4 four stages of Bridge to Foster

1. Planning and transition

We match children to foster carers carefully, taking into account a range of factors. Over six-weeks, they will meet in a series of introductory visits. Meanwhile, a clinical psychologist will identify additional input the foster carer might need, plus any specialist training requirements.

2. Stabilisation and intensive support

Over the next 18 weeks, our teams 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.

3. Settling and maintenance

This phase normally lasts 28-34 weeks. As the child begins to settle in, we continue with an enhanced level of support. This level of support will gradually reduce over time.

4. Enhanced foster placement

We will continue to provide an enhanced flexible service level, which is tailored to support each foster carer and foster child.

Experiences of Bridge to Foster

Kevin stayed with the same foster parents for more than two years while adoptive parents were sought. 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, Kevin’s foster parents spent time with them, explaining what his medical needs were (he had foetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD and dyspraxia). They also played an essential role in helping the boy begin to trust and form relationships with his new parents. Read Kevin’s full story.

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Find out if you could be a foster carer
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