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Published on: 2019-03-28 16:41:00
Since my first fostering placement with Nexus Fostering, I’ve never been without a child in my care and that’s the way I like it. It means I’m always busy with children, school runs, parents’ evenings, wiping tears, patching scraped knees, refereeing arguments or family days out, amongst all the other myriad of jobs that come with caring for children and teenagers.
No placement is the same as no two children are the same. We’ve had siblings, teens, children with mental health concerns, disabled children, emergency placements, and 2 children with FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). I was trained how to change and monitor a PEG feeding tube and how to care for a profoundly disabled child but none of children in my care have been identified as needing a specialised type of care.
Our most recent siblings have moved together to a successful adoptive family and, while we take a short break for a family holiday, I’ve been looking into the more specialised types of care that Nexus Fostering offer.
Rosie, my Supervising Social Worker, suggested I investigate Nexus 360, so I’ve been exploring how it supports children and the team around them, along with the criteria needed to become a Nexus 360 foster carer.
Nexus 360 is a highly specialised and individual type of care for children who have experienced significant trauma, abuse and or neglect.
My initial assumption was that this is a service aimed at angry and confused young people and teenagers who have been labelled as ‘hard to place’ but that is not the case.
Originally aimed at children of 5 years old and upwards, I’ve since learnt that many of the referrals from local authorities coming through from for Nexus 360 care can be as young as 2 years old. If a child has had several moves between family members or foster carers, if they present a risk to themselves (self-harming, absconding, putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations), or if they are a risk to other children, for example by displaying highly sexualised behaviour, then they could be eligible for this specialised, comprehensive care.
Other reasons a child might need Nexus 360 care could be a history of offending, challenging behaviour, children with a severe attachment disorder, those at risk or who have experienced CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) or children who have been identified as potentially needing residential care.
As the 360 name implies, there is 24/7 wrap-around therapeutic support for both the child or young person and also for the foster carer. The child’s care will be overseen by a psychologist, but a wider team involved in their care and support will include a therapist, a support worker, an educational liaison officer, as well as their social worker. The professional team around the child or young person recognise that foster carers caring for a child with complex or challenging needs will also need additional support themselves.
All Nexus 360 carers have attended a specialised therapeutic training programme focused on building attachment and resilience, intervention and de-escalation, and it is recognised that foster carers also need a tailored support package around them, and this includes regular time with a psychologist, increased levels of supervising social worker support, daily contact to assess risk, as well as an enhanced foster carer fee and an increased respite allowance.
This type of specialist foster care isn’t for everyone; it will be intensive and children and young people who’ve learnt not to trust adults can push boundaries and well as carers buttons, but I suspect it could be extremely rewarding.
The initial check list for potential Nexus 360 carers is to offer a consistent therapeutic style of parenting, show emotional resilience and a commitment to work with the team of professionals surrounding the child. As with all types of fostering, specialised or not, a sense of humour is a must!
I’ve loved every placement and child that has been with me and celebrated every victory, big or small. We’re ready for a holiday, as last year we had 4 children with us and, during the summer holidays, a 5th child joined us for a short-term placement. This meant we were always busy, and it was a noisy, lively house.
When we get back from our trip, will I consider becoming a Nexus 360 foster carer?
Yes, I think so, I’m ready for a new challenge.