Foster care and the role of social pedagogy 1

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Foster care and the role of social pedagogy 1

Foster carers and social pedagogy

Foster care incorporates social pedagogy

Foster care has been subjected to many different modes of thinking over recent years. Decades ago, there wasn’t a great deal of theorising. Fostering literally meant finding well-intentioned people who were prepared to make a spare room available for a child who could no longer live with their family. Times have changed and the world is a more complex place. For everyone involved in the provision of foster care, there will always be the need to keep abreast of new thinking. Only by paying scrupulous attention to fostering as a process rather than simply an option, can we ensure we are always doing our very best for looked after children.  

The leading fostering care charity, The Fostering Network, has worked tirelessly to make all of us involved in fostering look for new ways to improve what we do. The ultimate goal will always be achieving the best outcomes for the children who come into care. Social pedagogy is an important programme that can deliver real benefits. The Fostering Network’s programme goes under the banner ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ and introducing it into care will necessitate cultural and systemic shifts from established practice. Social workers, carers, local authorities and fostering agencies have all had to rethink the way fostering is delivered. 

Social pedagogy explained.

Social pedagogy shifts the emphasis from the rigid following of procedures to building and evaluating relationships. It also aims to move foster parents and all stakeholders from a risk-averse culture to a risk management one. The Fostering Network describes it: 

“It allows foster carers to make decisions and it places the time foster carers spend with the children they foster and what they do with that time at the heart of how the state can best improve the lives of children in care. It places relationships at the heart of maintaining stability, improving educational outcomes and wellbeing.”

The background of social pedagogy.

Social pedagogy is based in along academic tradition. It has informed and shaped childcare practice in many countries in Europe and Scandinavia. The child, or young person, is placed at the heart of all decision making and takes into account their holistic world. It pays full attention to all the relationships that give that individual world its meaning. Social pedagogy makes sure that a balance is established between –

  • the head: the logical and consistent application of knowledge rooted in established child development theories;
  • the heart: recognising we all of us bring our individual ethical and emotional needs into our decision making as well as our behaviour;
  • the hands: the acknowledgement all these separate decisions get made in the real world as well as the potential of everyday practical tasks to offer fundamental opportunities to build the relationships needed to support us in our lives. 

Or  practitioners of social pedagogy can be thought of as professionals:

“who work with the whole child, aware that children think, feel, have a physical, spiritual, social and creative existence, and that all of these characteristics are in interaction in the person. This approach is in contrast to the more procedural methods used in working with children, sometimes found among some English care workers.”

The next blog will look at why social pedagogy has so much to offer.

Petrie, P., Boddy, J., Cameron, C., Wigfall, V. & Simon, A. 2006. Working with Children in Care – European Perspectives, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Contact Rainbow today for a career in Foster care: call 0330 311 2845

Rainbow is recruiting in London, Manchester, Birmingham Portsmouth and Hampshire. We are always interested in talking to people about mainstream fostering. At the moment there is a particular shortage of people applying for:

  • fostering for sibling groups;
  • fostering for mother and baby placements;
  • fostering for teenager 
  • fostering for children with complex needs.

Rainbow has carers from all sorts of backgrounds: single people, couples (married or living together), same-sex couples, families – with or without children – and from all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. 

To consider becoming a carer there is one minimum requirement: a spare room to accommodate a child or young person. There is more general information about care at Latest rainbow News can be viewed at And for an interesting blog:

Transfer to Rainbow Fostering.

We are a welcoming fostering agency and recognise that carers may have various reasons for wanting to transfer. It’s important to understand that all carers have the right to move to another agency. We also understand you will have anxieties about moving to another agency. We can put your mind at ease and manage the whole process from start to finish in an efficient sensitive manner. Just call us for a confidential no-obligation chat with one of our experienced recruitment professionals.

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