A COUPLE have praised a training scheme which helps foster children deal with trauma.

Julie and Matthew Cooch, from Southminster, have fostered 15 children for more than nine years and have had a nine-year-old boy in their care since he was just three.

They say the support and training from Essex County Council has helped them to understand the reasons behind their foster son’s challenging behaviour and how to deal with it.

The programme was launched in 2018 and was developed due to overwhelming evidence that children who have suffered trauma are much better if they live with families in a safe environment.

Julie said: “He has transformed from someone who was excluded from school, because he wouldn’t engage in lessons and lashed out at teachers, to now being in full-time education.

“It only works though when the children feel part of your family and are not made to feel different.

“These children already face enough stigma in their lives from others about being a foster child.”

The couple, who started fostering by providing respite care, say if they ever get frustrated with their foster son’s behaviour, then they just remind themselves that he has not had what most children have in their early years.

Julie said: “Losing his parents must have been tough, let alone all the other disappointments he has faced.

“We can’t imagine what he has been through, so we don’t judge his behaviour.

“We also don’t let it be an excuse for his behaviour, but it does increase our empathy for him.”

Foster carers have access a dedicated social worker and 24-hour support line.

Consultant clinical psychologist Barbara Canepa said: “Our goal is to help give children in care the best possible environment in which to feel safe and secure, and to go on to thrive.”

For details, visit essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.