Foster care and education about sex and sexuality

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Foster care and education about sex and sexuality

Foster care and sex education

Foster cared will involve sex education

Foster carers, like all parents, have a responsibility for ensuring those they care for are educated about sex and sexuality. This is essential for all members of a household but delivered in a way that is age -appropriate. The same applies to foster homes but in the case of fostered children, it may also need to be sensitive to the sensitivities and beliefs of their birth families. This is especially the case where a fostered child is of a different ethnicity ofor cultural heritage. Ideally, all placements would be culturally matched but there is a shortage of foster carers. 

Religious, ethnic and cultural diversity means that families will have different views and attitudes about what children are taught about sexual matters. Information about sex and sexuality has to be carefully and sensitively managed. Sex education is a controversial subject and has received considerable media attention in the recent past. There are arguments about who should undertake this form of education and how best to present information. Carers always need to be mindful and request advice about the best ways of approaching these issues when caring for children from a different cultural or religious background. 

Foster carers should appreciate that sex education breaks down into two main areas: managing intimate relationships and an understanding of the physical and emotional changes puberty brings. Foster carers should prepare and ensure they are reasonably well-informed about such matters so their own responses will be appropriate. Children and young people are unpredictable and there is often no way of knowing when the subject might be brought up. All adults actively involved in a parenting role need to keep the lines of communication on this topic open. It is an area that can give rise to feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness. And that applies to both young people and adults. But if a neutral tone is adopted and any discussions held in a relaxed and informal manner, such feelings can be lessened. Foster carers should have an idea of what is being taught at school on this subject. Most schools will send out information in advance of sex education classes. In the ‘rough and tumble’ of a healthy family setting it is likely foster carers will have an idea of playground chatter on this subject. They should listen out for anything said that is wrong and deal with misunderstandings children usually have in certain areas. 

One area foster carers need to be aware of is potential bullying. It is natural for children to tease one another and this is a subject children naturally become interested in. Children will have differing levels of knowledge depending on their circumstances. Only children will not be getting information – possibly inaccurate – from older siblings. Some children may have virtually no idea compared to some in their peer group. This can make them fall victim to bullying. And this shows how important it is that all young people have information on sex and sexuality that is age-appropriate. So an important part of sex education is to aid children in responding to oppressive or abusive from others. They need to be taught – and this applies to education generally – they are allowed to say ‘no’ to behaviour or conversation that makes them feel uncomfortable. A foster carer should help a child or young person develop strategies to challenge abuse or to disclose if this has taken place. Caregivers need to have confidence in their own abilities to explain to a child what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. Some children who have come in to care will have become sexualised as a result of their experiences. Obviously, the fostering settings for such children need to be well judged. Carers will have access to help and support which will enable them to assist children to change behaviour that is not age acceptable for their age. In some ways, foster carers are at an advantage over other parents as their agency or local authority will be able to give them advice, training and support. Again, foster carers will need to get the language and tone of communication on this subject right. Children must understand that such conversations are about making them feel safer and are certainly not about abusing them. 

Foster carers can rely on additional support.

Some children who come into care may have experienced gang culture. They may also, prior to being placed in care, have lived in dysfunctional family settings which resulted in their staying out late. Such children often come into contact with much older children commonly far more sexually aware. This can lead to sexual precocity which can be challenging to manage. Foster carers need to help children start to value themselves in ways that prevent them from engaging in risky sexual behaviours. Some young people who have been involved in prostitution will need experienced foster carers able to support them and help them find routes out of danger and exploitation.  Foster carers in such situations will be able to depend upon considerable support from their own supervising social worker. And frequently they are in contact with other carers who have had similar experiences who will also offer support. These young people have to be closely monitored as they are at sexual risk themselves as well as physical risk.

Where there has been a prevalence of sexualised behaviour  the fostering setting itself can become charged. These can be difficult and fraught situations to manage. It happens that unfounded allegations can sometimes be made against carers when the atmosphere has become heightened. Foster carers who have to deal with sexual or sexualised behaviours can experience sexual feelings of their own. This can result in them feeling uncomfortable and guilty. It can also make them feel considerable anxiety. Such feelings are not themselves harmful to the child or young person, but the foster carer’s response to them could well be. It goes without saying that such feelings should never be acted upon. That would be an abuse of trust likely only to compound the difficulties faced by a child who needs to feel they are cared for and protected at all times.  

Understanding the landscape.

It should be clear from this that foster carers need to be aware of the forces that may be present in their fostering household. We are living in an environment far more sexualised than would have been experienced by previous generations. The media is pervasive with content often of a low key sexual nature. And then there is the access to social media on smartphones that young people have. A huge proportion of that will relate to issues connected to appearance and sex. Much of this is beyond the reach of parents – including foster carers. The different media channels in their drive for audience share will select stories that are salacious in nature. This means that all households become sexualised at certain times. Humour can be part and parcel of sexual conversations: all foster carers will know how much young people delight in double meanings and innuendo – especially sexual in nature. 

Technology and social media mean we are all in uncharted territory. This does not mean that a fostering household does not set boundaries. A family policy should identify which behaviours are acceptable and those that are not. There should be limits on screen time and the use of computers/tablets/smartphones discussed and agreed. Carers with their own children must be alert to the possible influence of a fostered child in the home. A teenage child might, for example, become sexually attracted to a foster child. This can happen over time – especially in longer-term placements. Fostering agencies take great care with matching however the potential sexual dynamics in a household should always be monitored. Carers should always seek help and advice if they feel that a situation is developing that could prove hard to manage.

Who can foster?

Carers are ordinary people who do extraordinary things to improve the lives and prospects of vulnerable children. No two fostering households are the same. People who come into fostering are from all walks of life and backgrounds. At Rainbow, Fostering encourage everyone with an interest in fostering to apply – irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, race or religion. 

By law, you can foster from the age of eighteen. At Rainbow, we prefer applicants who have a minimum age of 21. There is no upper age limit to foster but you need to enjoy reasonable health and fitness to cope with the challenges of fostering. We do want very much to encourage younger people to become foster carers because of the shortage of foster homes.

Currently, if an applicant decides to proceed and we are in agreement, the process of becoming an ‘Approved’ carer usually takes around 16 – 18 weeks. During this period you will have to complete the standard ‘Skills to Foster’ course which is a basic introduction to fostering. 

Please feel free to call us on 0330 311 2845 to have an informal chat about fostering and what it involves. Or you can leave your details online and arrange for us to call you.

To further help you.

We have an idea of the most common questions so if your current search covers fostering agencies near me; best foster care agencies; top 10 fostering agencies; foster carer pay; types of fostering; cost of fostering a child or what disqualifies you from being a foster parent uk, we can help with answers to all these issues. Just what you’d expect from an agency created ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted.

It’s also a good idea to take a thorough look around our website. It features blogs and news articles – as well as pages dedicated to specific aspects of foster care.

Fostering with Rainbow provides you with a choice of career options.

Apply now to become a carer with us. We have streamlined our recruitment process to enable applicants to benefit from our online path to fostering. Where previously we would normally conduct an initial home visit in person the pandemic has meant we now use Skype – something which is easy for us to set up for you. When circumstances permit, we will, of course, arrange a home visit. It is important that you understand that there is no barrier to your applying to become a foster carer today.

We provide all the care training you will need – along with extensive support and guidance; we pay generous allowances and fees; we have a mix of short and long-term placements available if you are living either in London, Birmingham, Manchester or Hampshire. The referrals we receive can be for babies, children and teenagers – of all ethnicities ages between 0 and 18. This is why all our foster acres receive the initial training to foster children 0 – 18.

For those interested in further developing their fostering careers, we provide additional training to enable carers to choose to either look after teenagers, parent and child placements, sibling groups and or children with complex needs.

What can a therapeutic carer achieve?

Being trained care therapeutically attracts enhanced payment rates. We provide intensive support for our carers: our Therapeutic Assessment Programme establishes where clinical input may be required. Placements are closely monitored by our specialist team and support is available day and night – all year round. We also offer carers the chance to obtain further qualifications to build their professional skills. Rates of pay are higher for therapeutic foster carers in recognition of the key role they play in the team. Everything! As seen through the eyes of the child who has been helped, to start to enjoy friendships and feel a sense of self-esteem – perhaps for the first time ever. A therapeutic carer can truly alter the course of a young life. Receiving consistent understanding and support can enable a child to develop socially and succeed with their education. This can give them a future with prospects. There can be few things as rewarding as making that kind of difference for a child.  

Who can become a foster parent?

Carers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things for vulnerable children. Our foster care households comprise people from all walks of life and experiences. Rainbow Fostering encourages applications from anyone with a commitment to fostering – irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, religion or race.

Call us on 0330 311 2845 to have an informal chat about fostering and what it involves. Or you can leave your details online and arrange for us to call you. Currently, if an applicant decides to proceed and we are in agreement, the process of becoming an ‘Approved’ carer takes around 16 – 18 weeks.

There is a lot more information about fostering on our website. Here we discuss and cover questions covering general foster care/ foster care near me/ foster care adoption/foster care agencies near me/foster care children/foster care jobs/foster care statistics/ top 10 fostering agencies/best foster care agencies.

We are always adding to our Blog section to drive fostering up the national agenda, today’s recommendation – 

Because children and young people have returned to nurseries, schools and universities, checking the latest advice and guidance to keep families safe is more important than ever – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus If you leave your details on our contacts page, you can also select a time for us to call you if that is more convenient. http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/ Rainbow putting the focus on fostering.

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