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Foster parents worried about the physical or emotional wellbeing of children in their care can still access support during lockdown.
That is the message from Dorset HealthCare’s Children in Care team, which offers online help and advice about a wide range of health issues facing young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the team is also reaching out to vulnerable care leavers who may be struggling to cope with the current restrictions while living on their own for the first time.
The Children in Care service provides specialist nursing and emotional support to around 1,000 children and young people in Dorset’s care system.
The team works with other local agencies, such as councils and the police, to ensure children who may have suffered neglect or abuse are given the health and wellbeing support they need.
Foster carers looking after children and young people face particular challenges during lockdown, but service manager Jenna Pitt said technology offers a lifeline.
“The COVID restrictions have helped some children develop strong bonds with their foster carers because they’ve been able to spend more time together. But at the same time, lockdown puts people under all kinds of stress and pressure,” she explained.
“The Children in Care team is here to help. Attend Anywhere, our video consultation system, means we can chat through any issues and provide support online as required.
“We can also respond through text messages and WhatsApp, as some people prefer that method rather than talking face to face. There are a range of options available.”
The offer of support is also extended to the 700 or so care leavers aged 18-25 across Dorset, who are trying to establish their independence during the current crisis.
“Many of these people will have had very difficult upbringings, and may be feeling very isolated and alone at the current time,” said Jenna.
“Our message is: if you need support or advice, please get in touch. Help is only a text or a phone call away.”
You can contact the Children in Care team on 01305 361127 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the team and the support it provides, visit www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/children-in-care