A Cumbernauld foster family is flourishing with the help of Quarriers, one of Scotland’s leading social charities, through its unique, specialised fostering service for children with complex needs and disabilities.
Four years ago, Marc and Linzie Connor opened their home to Calum* and now they have said: ‘We couldn’t imagine life without him.’
Calum, now 14, was just 10 when he came to live with Marc (46) and Linzie (44) after first being introduced to them while he was at school. The decision to foster a child with complex needs took careful thought and consideration and with support from Quarriers, Calum has flourished in the Connors’ care.
“Although Calum is non-verbal, you know exactly what he is telling you. He’s a fantastic boy with a great sense of humour. He’s just like any teenager though and at times needs his own space and at other times enjoys going to the cinema, the park and shopping.”
After Calum was placed with the Connors, Linzie gave up work to concentrate on fostering full-time. Two years later, Marc also gave up work to be a full-time carer alongside his wife. They receive a carers’ fee and an allowance, but the decision was not financial and was about providing a safe, nurturing and loving home for the young person in their care.
Linzie and Marc are keen to point out that they are not mum and dad to Calum.
“Calum has a mum and dad and he sees them regularly, however, he is very much part of the Connor family and has a great rapport with Linzie’s 90-year-old dad.
Fostering has changed Marc and Linzie, giving them more confidence and allowing them to offer advice and a listening ear to prospective foster carers through Quarriers’ ‘Skills to Fostering’ classes.
Fostering brings challenges and the Connors rely on the support offered by Quarriers specialist staff as well as a network of like-minded carers. While Calum lives with them on a permanent basis, he enjoys short breaks at Quarriers Countryview Service to help increase his independence and allow him to enjoy new experiences.
Peg feeding (where a tube is passed into the stomach), administering steroid replacement drugs and growth hormones, as well as moving and handling can be part of caring for a child with complex disabilities and Quarriers provides training in these skills, as well as in Child Protection, Protection of Vulnerable People and Emergency First Aid Skills. Carers also receive an individualised tailored training package based around the needs of the child they are looking after, and further support is provided by a Supervising Social Worker.
What makes fostering with Quarriers different is offering permanent placements to children with disabilities and additional needs. Operating a Shared Lives Scheme further allows foster carers to continue to care for the children as they transfer to Adult Services.
With the care and support, Calum has exceeded expectations and now he can eat, stand, make choices, sit up unaided, sleep safely and achieve many more things that surprise and delight Marc and Linzie on a daily basis.
Anyone considering fostering a child or young person with complex needs should call Rachel Sawyer (Service Manager) or Louise Garrett (Senior Supervising Social Worker) on 0141 954 10 10 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
* Name has been changed.