Can Anyone Become a TLC Foster Carer?
06 November 2023
06 November 2023
06 November 2023
TLC is an established Blue Sky Fostering therapeutic service that has been helping and supporting both young people and carers for over 10 years. Our TLC Service looks after the most vulnerable young people, those that have experienced significant trauma and who likely mask these needs through behaviours and an inability to bond with adult care givers. We have a saying in our TLC Service – “our young people ask for love in the most unlovable way” and due to this, it is likely that our TLC young people have experienced several placement breakdowns before being placed with us. They have not been able to develop the skills needed to be successful within a family – and we do everything we can to change that.
TLC is about providing a safe, therapeutic family environment for vulnerable young people where they can experience a sense of belonging and stability – Millie
Millie Roxbee is a Deputy Area Manager who oversees our TLC (Therapeutically Led Care) service in Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.
Millie explained that Blue Sky’s TLC service is divided into two services. TLC-12 and TLC+12. The service provided to a young person is based on their level of need and not age. TLC has all the benefits of regular fostering with added therapeutic elements that help identify and support complex issues.
TLC is for complex and vulnerable young people, offering a supportive space for those who may have struggled in traditional foster care settings - Millie
Young people placed within our TLC service are likely to have experienced significant abuse, neglect, trauma, exploitation, or several previous placement breakdowns and can display their needs from these traumatic experiences in a variety of different ways. The young people on our TLC-12 service and their needs primarily stem from not having or being able to develop a safe, secure relationship with a trusted adult. Their behaviours which we often refer to as survival strategies, exist to protect them from these relationships and keep adults at a distance.
We support our foster carers to develop a relationship at a pace that is manageable for that young person, and as this relationship develops, we tend to see the behaviours reduce. The young people on our TLC+12 also have the above needs; however, their survival strategies are more entrenched and likely to place themselves or others at risk. This could look like going missing regularly, self-harm, disordered eating, substance misuse, criminal or sexual exploitation, and more. We support our foster carers to respond to these high-risk responses therapeutically, where the boundaries and expectations for young people are explicitly clear. Over time, the therapeutic responses and explicit boundaries support the young person to move away from these high-risk behaviours and towards pro-social, relationship-sustaining coping strategies.
At Blue Sky, we believe all young people, no matter their background, should get support, attention, and a safe place of residence.
The Importance of Emotional Resilience
The needs of a young person in both TLC forms can be complex, as carers may have to support them through tough circumstances, dealing with trauma or attachment issues stemming from their past while sometimes managing challenging behaviours.
Before starting, there is no such thing as an experienced TLC carer, but we can help guide and support our carers at every step – Dorothy
Our Clinical Lead at Blue Sky, Dorothy Johnson, shares that an important aspect of being a successful TLC carer is to have or develop “emotional resilience” to help navigate through the challenges TLC can bring.
Whilst most carers will develop their emotional resilience throughout their fostering journey, others will draw upon their own experiences to support them with the fostering task. It is our responsibility at Blue Sky to recognise and understand our carers abilities and to enhance their skillset with dedicated training and one-to-one sessions provided within our TLC service.
Blue Sky Carers who provide TLC fostering are given the chance to make a positive impact on a young person’s life and receive additional as well as ongoing support along with enhanced funding.
Our clinical reflective practice sessions help create a supportive network where TLC carers can meet and support each other - Millie
Foster carers on both TLC services will receive weekly reflective practice sessions with a clinical practitioner to help focus on therapeutic responses, behaviour management, and much more.
Young people placed upon our therapeutic service will receive additional support via an Individual Worker, this can be weekly or fortnightly depending on the TLC service the young person is assigned to.
Within our Blue Sky team are also education workers who help provide support and guidance for education-related challenges involving young people. At Blue Sky, we understand the importance and impact education can have on a young person and give everything we can to support and encourage their academics.
“Blue Sky is a village, and we all work together to support the child and foster carers- not one is in it alone " - Millie
The success of TLC journeys is enhanced by Blue Sky’s careful matching process for suitable foster carers with young people. This is great as we make certain that every family is the right fit, and throughout the journey, our TLC carers receive extensive support.
We encourage everyone to reach out when going through tough moments, as the Blue Sky team is always available to offer help and advice when needed along with our helpful support groups and buddy carer arrangements.
Although there are no preset professional requirements for becoming a TLC foster carer, there is a right mindset that can help in success with this form of fostering. Millie shares that a successful TLC foster carer needs to show flexibility, understanding, empathy, and an open mindset to learning therapeutic fostering techniques.
"I think it's all about being open, willing to learn, willing to do new things. It's about being open to the support Blue Sky offers because we're all here together on this journey.” – Millie
Dorothy shares that with the right mindset, dedication, and willingness to take part and accept support from Blue Sky, almost anyone can become a successful TLC foster carer. Carers that are willing to engage more with ongoing support, reflective sessions, and seeking support when needed are some examples of great foster care success.
Overall, the combination of emotional resilience, robust training, and a supportive network provided by Blue Sky empowers foster carers to make a positive impact on the lives of complex and vulnerable young people within TLC foster care.
"The primary goal of TLC is to help these young people heal, develop, and thrive in a nurturing family environment with specialised care and attention." – Millie
Through a combination of extensive training, dedicated support, and our Blue Sky core values, we make sure our foster carers are well-equipped to make a positive and profound impact on the lives of vulnerable young people and provide them with the stability and love they need and deserve.