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Substance misuse and binge drinking ‘higher in young people in foster care’

A new study of secondary school students (11-16 years) in Wales by Dr Sara Long of Cardiff University looked at the issues affecting youngsters and their relationship with caregivers, teachers and friends.

Their research highlighted a real need for the development and evaluation of interventions to improve wellbeing, and reduce substance use among young people in foster care by supporting looked after young people in the development of healthy interpersonal relationships.

This conclusion was based on the discovery that children and young people in foster care reported almost 8 times the rates of weekly smoking compared to young people living with both parents, and almost 4 times higher than among those living with a single mother.

Family Fostering Partners has long recognised that young people living in foster care can experience significantly worse outcomes than young people who not in care. Instability and poor relationships can trigger and mask problems with substance misue, and can also prevent the early identification of potential problematic behaviour. Young people in care may not receive appropriate and timely support and encouragement. This is why our focus is always on providing the best training and support to our carers to help them deliver positive outcomes for those in their care and to help the child or young person avoid becoming one of these terrible statistics.

We have an inclusive policy that encourages carers and their families to informally network with each other and to also attend Family Fostering Partners led social events. This helps children and young people who are looked after to build healthy interpersonal relationships with others in similar circumstances. Within their foster families, looked after children are also encouraged and supported to develop interests and to participate in activities and hobbies that promote self esteem and develop vital life skills.

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