Fostering a disabled child: what you should know

When a disabled child cannot remain with their birth family, foster care can provide them with a stable, safe, and nurturing home. Fostering a child with disabilities has its own unique rewards and responsibilities. As a foster carer, you’ll play a vital role in supporting disabled children through a difficult period in their lives.

Who are the children?

Disabled children entering foster care in the UK have conditions such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and learning disabilities. Some children have multiple disabilities. Their needs differ, but they all require the same thing – dedicated care from foster carers.

Some disabled children enter foster care for a short time while their parents receive support. Others may stay in foster care longer term. The aim is to provide each child with an appropriate, loving foster home.

Requirements for fostering a disabled child

The process for becoming a foster carer for disabled children is much the same as for any foster child. You’ll need a spare room and the time and patience to care for a child. Experience working with disabled children is useful but not required, as full training will be provided. You’ll also get financial support from agencies like and may be eligible for certain benefits.

It helps if you have a basic understanding of the child’s condition. This allows you to learn how to best support them. Be ready to advocate for the child and work closely with healthcare and education professionals.

While caring for a disabled child takes effort, great rewards exist. You’ll get to witness key milestones as the child develops. With your support, they can thrive.

foster parent

Understanding a disabled child’s needs

Life in foster care is a big adjustment for any child. Disabled children also adapt to new routines, rules, and people caring for them.

Patience is essential, as some disabled children may act out or struggle to communicate. Anxiety over their family situation can cause added distress.

With reassurance and time to settle in, a foster home can become a source of comfort. Consistent care tailored to the child’s needs helps them feel secure.

Specialised care, such as physiotherapy or speech therapy, may be part of their routine. They’ll also have regular contact with the birth family and social workers, so be prepared to collaborate with other parties.

Daily living considerations

Depending on the child’s disabilities, you may need to alter your home and daily routines. For example, installing ramps and grip bars. Joining support groups can provide advice from parents in similar situations.

Work with their care team to learn the best ways to assist the child: how to move them safely, calm them if distressed, or communicate if they are nonverbal. While every child has different needs, the goal is to enable them to be as independent as possible.

Give the child household responsibilities so they feel included. But avoid over-burdening them. Therapy and healthcare needs may mean more time is spent at home than at school.

Help the child get involved in social activities tailored to their abilities. They need opportunities to have fun and make friends!

Patience and compassion will help the child feel secure. Though fostering a disabled child brings a lot of responsibility, remember that you can make an immense difference in their life.

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