Fostering severely disabled kids

May 29, 2012, 2:19 PM GMT+0

Poll: Only 26% potential Scots foster carers would consider taking child with multiple disabilities

Severely disabled children in Scotland are being left on the foster care shelf, our research for charity Quarriers has revealed.

The poll of 1,008 Scottish adults – commissioned to coincide with a recruitment drive for carers for Quarriers’s new fostering service, and to highlight the annual Foster Care Fortnight – found that of those who would consider or are already fostering only a quarter would take a child with multiple disabilities and complex needs.

  • Just 26% of those who would consider fostering or are already doing so would take a child with multiple disabilities and complex needs

This is in stark contrast to children with less complex disabilities.

  • More than half (55%) of those potential carers polled would consider a child with a cognitive disability (for example learning difficulties)
  • 51% said they would foster a child with a disability linked to mobility
  • This proportion dropped to two-fifths (40%) for children with serious emotional or behavioural problems

Exhaustion (48%) and the fear of not getting enough support (47%) were the main reasons given by potential foster carers who would not or were unsure if they would want to have a disabled child placed with them.

'Disabled children face extreme challenges'

Quarriers’s new fostering service is aimed at increasing the number of placements for severely disabled children drawing on the charity’s extensive experience of providing services such as short breaks across Scotland.

Liz Hamilton, fostering service co-ordinator at Quarriers, admitted the results of the survey were disappointing and urged more foster carers to consider disabled children.

She said: “Severely disabled children face extreme challenges every day of their lives and it seems so unfair the odds are stacked against those in the care system when it comes to finding a foster care placement.

“I would urge potential foster carers see past the barriers to ensure the hardest-to-place children get an opportunity to benefit from family life.

“Quarriers has decades of experience supporting birth families support their disabled children and can use this expertise to offer foster carers a complete support network to ensure they have all they need to sustain a placement.”


Ann Clarke, who runs a residential project for children with emotional and behavioural problems at Quarriers, became a short-term foster carer for children with disabilities five years ago after being asked to find a placement for a child with a terminal illness to give her foster parents a break.

“It can be tough," she says, "But working with children with disabilities is extremely rewarding – both professionally and as a foster carer.”

See the survey details and full results here

Founded in 1871 by William Quarrier at Bridge of Weir, just outside Glasgow, Quarriers is one of Scotland’s largest social care charities. It provides much needed care and support for thousands of vulnerable children, young people, adults and families who face extremely challenging circumstances such as homelessness, learning and physical disabilities and epilepsy.

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