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Help children with additional needs thrive

Foster Carers, Types of Care, Uncategorized,

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Around seven out of 10 looked after children have special educational needs (SEN) compared with almost two in 10 of all children.


We need more foster carers for children with complex needs in the Portsmouth area so that children and young people with additional needs can be appropriately matched, they can thrive in a caring environment, and we can build successful placements minimising disruption and improving outcomes.


As well as physical disabilities, these include children or young people living with learning disabilities. These conditions range from dyslexia, cerebral palsy and ADHD through to Downs Syndrome, global developmental delay and autism. They can be mild or more severe, and they can also be more likely to result in some challenging behaviours, commonly due to difficulties in communicating and expressing frustrations.


During Learning Disabilities Week (19- 25 June), Foster Portsmouth once again hoped to highlight the need for more people to come forward to foster children and young people with complex needs, in particular those who have a background in caring or working for these children, thus enabling them to more freely express themselves, spend time doing things they enjoy, and develop simple coping strategies to reduce stress, for example.


Jo Austin, an experienced sole carer with Portsmouth City Council, has fostered children with additional needs including many children with autism. Jo shared, “I started my caring career as a young adult working with disabled children before training as a registered general nurse. When I returned to work after a career break raising my own family, including my son who himself has additional needs, my choices always led me back to the care profession and especially working with children who have complex needs.”


Jo continued, “My son was non-verbal and still in nappies aged six, yet he now drives, has a good job and is father to my beautiful granddaughter, who also has autism and global delay. He is an inspiration and has motivated me to offer children like him, who couldn’t live with their birth families for whatever reason, the same chances that he had including a stable, loving home.”


Why not take a moment around Learning Disabilities Week 2023 to discover more about how you can utilise your skills and experience to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people with complex needs in Portsmouth, including learning and physical disabilities and complex health needs.


Foster carers who care for children or young people with additional needs receive enhanced training, 24/7 support, and additional fees and allowances, as well as respite care or Family Link support from other foster carers. You would also have access to our mentoring scheme and Mockingbird programme which we are progressively rolling out across the Portsmouth area.


Anyone aged 21+ with a spare bedroom could foster with Foster Portsmouth regardless of their age, gender, faith, ethnicity, sexuality, marital or work status, or whether they rent or own their own home. This could be a short or long term arrangement for a child or siblings until they’re ready to live independently or be reunited with family, support for unaccompanied children seeking asylum or children with a disabilitysupported lodgings to develop their independent living skills, parent and baby placements, or respite care.


Jo, who currently has 6-year-old boy on a permanent placement, concluded, “Seeing children learning to heal and form healthy, loving attachments and relationships is the most rewarding part of fostering for me.”


Anyone aged 21+ with a spare bedroom could foster with Foster Portsmouth regardless of their age, gender, faith, ethnicitysexualitymarital or work status, or whether they rent or own their own home.


If you have the commitment and enthusiasm to care for vulnerable children including those with additional needs, we would love to hear from you. We can arrange an informal chat with an experienced member of our team to answer any queries you may have. We can also organise a 1-2-1 with one of our existing carers so you can discover first-hand the difference you could make.


To enquire about fostering with Foster Portsmouth, or to arrange a 1:1 with one of our experienced team or existing foster carers, please fill in our contact form below, call 023 9283 4071 or email




*Photos contain models to protect identities


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