Mutual benefits: The Potential of Disabled People as Foster Carers

The 2 year pilot project is led by the University of Worcester in collaboration with Shaping Our Lives National User Network (a Disabled People’s Organisation) and the Foster Care Co-operative.

Mutual Benefits is about giving disabled people equal opportunity to become foster carers and exploring the barriers that prevents the inclusion of disabled people from being part of the foster carer workforce.

The project is piloting with 4 fostering agencies. The agencies are a combination of statutory and private providers from both urban and rural settings across England. There is a national shortage of foster carers estimated at 9,000.

Mutual Benefits is about challenging negative perceptions and discriminatory practice in relation to the potential for disabled people as foster carers. The project is working towards:

  • Proactively seeking disabled people as potential foster carers and utilising their valuable life experience as positive role models for foster children (disabled and non-disabled)
  • Empowering disabled people to become foster carers and participating in a socially valued role
  • Transferring independent living skills and strategies to disabled children fostered by disabled foster carers and providing aspirations for their own success
  • Contributing towards halving the unemployment gap for disabled peopleMutual Benefits is coproducing a toolkit and detailed guidance that will be disseminated to all fostering agencies. A national increase in disabled foster carers is the aim of this project.
  • A longer term outcome will be that children who benefit from having been cared for by a disabled foster carer will develop positive attitudes towards disability, difference and individual potentials.