Foster care is all about generosity and the willingness of carers to devote large parts of their own lives to helping vulnerable children and young people fulfil their potential. This is a major sacrifice made by adults but this month we also mark the generosity and sacrifices made by the children of foster carers. They accept vulnerable children into their own families and demonstrate a willingness to share not just their homes but also their own parents. Difficult for many of us to imagine that level of generosity.
Perhaps the art of making these kinds of placements successful for all concerned is for foster carers to develop a high level of vigilance, not paranoia. So for foster carers: in general terms, there are a number of steps to take to assist your own children to cope with the stresses and challenges of fostering. There are also some specific measures that can be taken to shield them from the risks of becoming involved in an inappropriate activity or finding themselves on the end of a complaint or allegation from a foster child. Consider: finding ways to give your own child complete reassurance that nothing can take away their own identity and uniqueness – consider producing their own ‘life-story’ book to include photos and memories of things that have been important in their lives; prepare your offspring well in advance about what fostering is and what your work as foster carer will be – let them read any books or articles on the subject; give them access to the online information about fostering – there is much that celebrates and recognises the valuable contribution the children of foster carers make; ask your fostering service provider if they have any videos or links to sites that can provide your children with more information; an age-appropriate open discussion should be encouraged about sexual matters – this might be uncomfortable but is critical for providing a safe environment; age-appropriate books should be available that cover sexuality and promoting safety; explain that a looked after child can sometimes find it more comfortable to talk about abuse they have suffered to other children but that secrets must never be kept over such matters.
The importance of being able to feel secure.
Security is a word that is inseparable from nearly all conversations about fostering. It is important for everyone involved in fostering to be able to feel secure. For the carers this means feeling secure they have the knowledge, training and support to be effective, the fostered child must feel secure in their sense of belonging and – crucially – sons and daughters of carers need to feel secure their voices will always be heard. There should always be an atmosphere of openness in the home. Good communication is extremely important and it isn’t always verbal. Carers should always be aware of their own child’s moods and emotions. Sudden changes in behaviour can be a sign something is wrong. Both silence and aggressive behaviour can be indicators. The views and opinions of carers own children should always be recorded and taken into account as they will form part of the fostering review all service providers will conduct.
No one likes surprises that are unwanted. Preparation is central to the success of this kind of fostering placement. A carers children should be prepared for the sorts of feelings they might experience when a foster child comes to stay. Children must be told in advance that their parents will always be receptive to hearing about their own children’s feelings. These might include frustration, anger, resentment, jealousy or irritation. Include them in all aspects of the situation that will impact on them – an example being how their own feelings will be affected if and when a fostered child moves on. All the children in the household have to have confidence that fairness will always be observed. A carers children should also have an understanding of the roles of the supervising social worker as well as the fostered child’s social worker. It’s important the children know that the supervising social worker is someone they should have a good relationship with. And that they appreciate this person will also be responsible for ensuring their thoughts and feelings are always taken into account. Before a fostered child even arrives the supervising social worker will have explained to the carer’s children what they are expected to do and say about the situation. This will vary according to the ages of those involved but it should be recognised children will be quizzed about a new arrival in their home by friends and classmates so they need to know how to respond. It should also be explained that a foster child will be able to talk to other people considered sage who are outside the immediate family situation. This will include the supervising social worker as well as the foster child’s own social worker. But it could include a trusted d relative or someone at school. It will also potentially include external organisations such as Childline – the listening service looked after children are entitled to use.
Older children should be made aware that if a foster child makes a complaint about them, it will be taken seriously and could involve an investigation. A balance has to be struck here: information is important, but carer’s children should not be left feeling frightened or anxious. Ultimately, the fostering household should a place where every member can feel safe, secure and trust their voice will always be heard. And on the lighter side! This year the leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network – as part of marking Sons and Daughters Month – are organising a fancy dress competition. Children and young people in fostering households are being asked for fancy dress ideas which will represent a favourite aspect of fostering. The theme for this is #fostermagic. Some of the examples the charity gives to get the creative juices flowing are; what it felt like to have your favourite meal cooked – so dress up like a roast chicken; the time you went to see the latest James Bond film – so a costume based on a favourite character; getting a big hug from a sibling – so a costume with warm fluffy arenas and a big heart.
Rainbow: a wide range of fostering opportunities in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire.
Why foster with Rainbow. We are often asked what the difference between fostering for an agency and a local authority is? Basically, the authorities have wider responsibilities that include not just fostering but safeguarding and child protection. At Rainbow, we concentrate solely upon fostering which means arranging the best-matched placements for our children and carers. Doing this means creating secure, stable fostering households where everyone thrives and is able to reach their full potential. With twenty years of experience, we have become highly specialised and effective. This is why our foster carers stay – many have been fostering with us for over ten years – some even longer. We forge unique, valued relationships with all our carers that are sensitive to their needs and aspirations. With us, it’s all about the best outcomes – the very best for our children and carers. And our organisational structure and support systems are all geared to that effort.
Carers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things for vulnerable children. And they come from all walks of life. We welcome everyone with a commitment to fostering irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, race or religion. Our training is based upon all applicants, once ‘Approved’ being proficient at providing care for children aged 0 – 18 years.
We are looking for more people to consider becoming therapeutic carers because a significant and increasing number of children are coming into care having experienced trauma. They may have been neglected or abused. This can make it hard for them to trust other people and build relationships. This can result in challenging behaviours because their needs are complex. Depression, anger or withdrawn behaviour can be common amongst such children. In these cases, we seek to place a child with a carer who has been trained in therapeutic care. The child then has the chance to build a trusting, enduring relationship with their carer. Whilst in placement, a child may receive additional therapy, which can enable them to overcome the traumatic experiences they have undergone.
What exactly does therapeutic care involve.
No two cases are alike – for some children, a programme of ongoing therapy may be required. This will involve one of our psychologists. The number of sessions may vary from child to child.
Through the training, the carer will develop a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons for a child’s behaviour. This enables them to play a key role in supporting a programme of therapy in the home. Therapeutic foster carers provide the kind of consistent care, knowledge and support that guards against placement breakdowns. When placements are repeatedly disrupted, this can be particularly damaging for a child who may already have experienced trauma.
Currently, there is an acute shortage of carers in the UK. The situation has been made worse by the pandemic and the effects of the lockdown. It is expected that the number of children needing fostering care could rise by 44%. So every application we receive is hugely valuable. Call 0330 311 2845 to register your interest in fostering with us today. We are conducting ‘virtual home visits’ over Skype so continue to process applications quickly and efficiently: on average around 16 weeks from initial interest to becoming an ‘Approved’ carer. Make that step into fostering with us today by calling 0330 311 2845. You’ll find we’re a dedicated, friendly bunch of people with a passion for fostering – so much so Ofsted rated us as being ‘Outstanding in all areas’.
There is plenty more you can find out by visiting our website. Here we discuss and cover issues such as 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.
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Coronavirus is an enormous challenge. Now that children have returned to nurseries, schools and universities, checking the latest advice and guidance to stay safe is more important than ever – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus Leave your details on our contacts page. http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/