Foster carers needing to deal with the issue of face-to-face contact will recall that at the start of the pandemic back in March largely ceased. This was because compliance with guidance from the government was required around public health and safety. Back then contact had to be virtual resulting in local authorities and fostering agencies having to make sweeping changes to their practices. Although the lockdown has been eased over recent weeks, it is clear that infection rates are rising steadily in many countries. This has culminated in the new ‘Rule of 6’ which is an attempt to limit the rise in rates. Notwithstanding this, there will be pressure for the resumption of face-to-face meetings where conditions can be made safe. This will depend on thorough risk assessments being made for each case. And clearly no two cases will be the same but for all, careful planning must be made.
It’s important any foster carer feels free to consider on an individual basis what needs to be taken into account concerning contact. The following are the general areas that carers might want to raise with their fostering service provider which will also include social workers: what strategies are in place to maintain the rules of social distancing; should PPE be worn and if so, who will provide this? Where will the contact take place and will it be indoors or outdoors? What will be made available to facilitate contact – if in a contact centre, will a dedicated room be available? How many family members will actually be present whilst contact takes place? If anyone proceeds to show symptoms of coronavirus after contact what measures are in place to ensure information is speedily shared/ should or must a child or young person wear a face mask during contact? If a meeting is taking place in a contact centre will temperatures be checked beforehand? What measures in relation to the provision of hand sanitiser, screens, social distancing markers and face masks, have been taken? Has a preparatory virtual meeting with a provider or local authority been possible in advance of the contact meeting. What other feelings or concerns might a foster carer have, and if expressed, have they been adequately dealt with?
Ensuring a child or young person is prepared for contact.
It must not be overlooked that the lockdown has affected all children significantly. Some will have had a relatively easier time, but others may have been subjected to considerable stress. Situations of economic hardship, domestic tension and illness – possibly all three in certain settings – will have affected the mental wellbeing of children. This means if face-to-face contact is being arranged a child or young person will need to be prepared. It’s worth having a definite aim for family contact time to be fun, child-friendly and rewarding.
Contact will look and feel very different from what a foster child is used to. If masks are to be worn, it might be an idea for a family member to send a picture of themselves wearing one. It could be unsettling for a child if the first time they meet a birth parent (s) they are wearing masks. Consideration needs to be given to circumstances where children were used to having physical contacts as if this is curtailed, a child might find contact even more distressing and traumatising. Children may not fully comprehend the risks that physical contact poses and feel angry and frustrated if they are prohibited. Remember children are being expected to behave in ways that go against their natural instincts. Rules have to be laid down in advance. Where siblings might be present, it should be anticipated there could be understandable excitement which could translate into risky behaviour. A foster carer and this will be age-dependent, should engage in discussion with the child they look after to acquaint them with the kind of differences they might experience. After all, a child or young person will only have memories of what used to happen during contact as their benchmark.
Thought should also be given to what may happen if contact is cancelled. Especially if this happens at particularly short notice. This could result from temperature testing minutes before the contact has been scheduled which has the potential to be extremely distressing for a foster child. It is also a good idea for foster carers to be clear about delegated authority. Where there are limits, these need to be clearly defined and understood.
Start your fostering journey with Rainbow.
You’ll quickly discover that we are a family at Rainbow. We offer the highest level of support and training to all our foster carers. It’s one reason why a good few have been with us for ten years and over. There’s no question that everyone here will always go that extra mile to support our cares and their children. The range of support services ensures that our foster carers can progress in whichever direction their interest takes them. This might mean specialising in fostering siblings, teenagers or children with complex needs.
Advice and encouragement are only ever a phone call away for our foster carers. For us, it’s always about feeling connected within our community. We are available 24/7 365 days a year.
Could you become a foster carer?
Foster carers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day for vulnerable children and young people. Our carers come from all walks of life – it’s what makes our community such a vibrant one. Rainbow welcomes everyone with a commitment to fostering irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, ethnicity or religion.
The process of becoming an ‘Approved’ foster carer usually takes around 16 – 18 weeks. We have plenty of fostering opportunities now in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire. Call us on 0330 3111 2845 for a friendly discussion. We can set up an initial meeting with you over Skype which is easy and straightforward.
Today’s recommended blog is to be found at: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-literacy-3/
The Cover-19 pandemic has challenged everyone in the country in different ways. Now children and young people have gone back to schools and colleges, information from the government is being updated to help people to continue remaining safe. And for updates visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus All our contact details and locations can be found at the link below where you will also be able to leave your contact details and arrange for us to call you back at a time to suit you. We look forward to hearing from you. http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/