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Foster care ‘successes’ provide an ongoing inspiration 6

Foster care home for Seal

Foster care experience for Seal


Foster carers are likely to be aware that we’re now at the halfway point of the Annual Foster Care Fortnight. The Fostering Network has been busy promoting all the aspects of foster care to be considered. In their blog today, well worth reading, they cover the urgent need for more people to come forward to foster teenagers and sibling groups. They also stress the need to find foster parents for children with additional needs. Look out for the hashtags #FCF10 and #changeafuture of social media to pick up on the campaign. And for comment from Sara Lurie, Director of the Fostering Network in Scotland, go to

Foster care is for…

For much of the year, the wider public will only have a hazy idea of what fostering is all about. Providing care for vulnerable children is a need that, sadly, is very much on the increase. So who exactly are these children that need foster parents? Well, children of all backgrounds and ages come into the care system every day. They require the support and care of foster parents and it might be for one night – as an emergency placement – a few weeks, or for their whole childhood.

On the latest estimates, The Fostering Network says that there will be a need to find around 8,600 new foster families over the next twelve months. The fact is that the largest number of children coming into care are aged over ten. This clearly means that foster carers with the skills and experience to look after older children are in particularly high demand. Foster parents able to care for sibling groups and children with additional needs are also highly sought after.

Children and young people arrive in care for wide-ranging reasons. It may be a result of their experiencing neglect; worse, some form of physical or sexual abuse. Sometimes it may be because the child’s parent has become ill and are not able to cope in the short term. Ideally, children will be placed with foster carers who can cater for their individual needs. This is why it’s so important to expand the pool of foster carers. When placements are not well matched, there is a far greater risk they will break down. This can cause considerable damage to children who are already coping with a lot of negative feelings. It is of considerable concern that placement breakdowns can affect foster carers too, leading them to give up fostering.

When fostering placements work well, the results can be dramatic in terms of lives being turned around. Children have a chance to thrive and build a future for themselves. A major part of Foster Care Fortnight is all about celebrating; as the Fostering Network describes it, the “transformational power of foster care.” The Network state that the campaign aims

“to highlight the work of foster carers across the UK so everyone can see the passion, dedication and expertise of those who care for fostered young poplin their own homes. This year’s theme #changafuture shows how foster care changes futures – the futures of fostered children and the futures of the foster families who look after them.”

Last year, as a result of the campaign, The Fostering Network achieved considerable attention forms the media. This generated nearly nine hundred pieces of media coverage. Sadly, there are many stories in the news at the moment attesting to just how vulnerable children are becoming. The level of poverty in the UK is cause for concern. Many children are arriving at school hungry and therefore not well prepared for learning. Many foster carers are finding that the children that are coming into their care are so because of neglect. So whilst there is a need for specialist foster carers in certain areas, this year’s campaign will also be very much about attracting people into mainstream fostering.

Perhaps one of the most effective ways of keeping up awareness of fostering is to record the lives and careers of care experienced individuals. Human beings respond well to stories of those who struggle and overcome the odds in life. Such accounts are remembered. Especially when it becomes clear that being disadvantaged has not been a brake on ambition. We have chosen a few individuals who have definitely made an impression within their chosen field. They feature on a list of one hundred ‘Fostering Heroes’ put out there by the poet Lemn Sissay who was brought up in care: “I have compiled this small list of 100 people from the UK who were fostered adopted or in children’s homes. I have met most of them on my travels.”

Foster care background: British singer-songwriter Seal.

Ask any young person what they would like to do with their lives and you can almost guarantee one of the answers will be to become a pop star. Hardly surprising: we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. Hugely influential will be the plethora of talent shows screened permanently, or so it seems, on our televisions. The most influential of these probably being the X Factor, which drew countless thousands of young people to its auditions. Since it began, this show has become one of the most established talent programmes ever devised – spawning more than a few stars along the way. The pull exerted by ideas of fame and fortune achieved as a musician is undoubted.

Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel – now better known as the renowned and globally famous singer-songwriter Seal – was born on February 19th 1963. The place: St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. His mother, Adebisi Ogundeji, was Nigerian and his father, Francis Samuel, was an African-Brazilian. His father was a plumber and his mother was a wig maker. Shortly after he was born, he was taken into foster care. For any child, going into a fostering family will almost always be an emotional experience. This can be negative or positive,  but one thing is for sure, emotions will be created which can last a lifetime. The proof of this, in Seal’s case, is that he broke down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably when he was reunited on American TV with the foster sister he had last seen forty years ago.

The reunion came about after some painstaking detective work by Seal’s supermodel wife, Heidi Klum. She found Hilary Scooling, the foster sister Seal last saw when he was just an infant. Heidi had been moved to find out more saying on the Oprah Winfrey show Seal wasn’t able to recall anything about his spell in foster care: “Every time when we talk about when he was a little boy he had no memory and he has no one who could ever tell him anything.”

Foster child ends up being a triple Grammy Award winner.

The story that emerged was that Seal had gone to live with the Scoolings soon after he was born in 1963. The foster family lived in Romford, Essex. The young boy then remained with his foster carers four foster siblings until he reached the age of four. After this, he went back to live with his mother, Adebisi. Seal had not managed to locate his foster family but Heidi managed to discover their whereabouts as a birthday surprise for the singer. Her method: to place an advert in a local Romford newspaper requesting information about Seal. She was amazed and delighted when a family responded and sent a picture to Heidi. When Seal was shown the picture, he instantly knew that this was his foster family from all those years ago.

These revelations were the trigger for a lot of emotions to be released on all sides. What is touching and so illuminating, is how everyone; not just the foster child, becomes drawn into a realm of emotions. Some of the themes are common to countless fostering situations: Hilary stated that she was “devastated” when she learned from her mother that Seal was being returned to his biological mother – “It was just like losing something that you’ve had for so many years, he was just gone. I really wanted to get in contact with him, but I didn’t know how to do it.” We should always remember that the birth children of foster parents enter into a world where emotional attachments can form. This is why the efforts The Fostering Network goes to in recognising the incredible contribution made by such children, are to be applauded. Something of the bonds that can form is made clear from what Hilary said as Seal watched a film made by the Scoolings: “Wherever we went, he was always there. He was just like a brother to us and that was it. He was another addition to our family.” And “We never treated him any different to anybody else.”

Hilary provided more of an insight into their family life with Seal. All the family could recall playing with him on the see-saw, then playing in the garden pushing him around in a pram. She said that he was “well-liked”, and that other children in the street used to come round and visit him all the time.

A foster child should believe their future can be full of promise.

What is clear from Seal’s early life is that he was always prepared to be positive. Whilst a young man he had a variety of jobs. These included a stint working at McDonald’s, electrical engineering and even designing clothing. He then began his musical odyssey and the rest, as they say, is history. In terms of chronology – once he launched himself into the world of music – he joined an English funk band Push and spent time touring in Japan during the mid-nineteen-eighties. He also linked up with a ‘Blues’ band based in Thailand. Part of his journey included a motorcycle accident that came to be regarded by the singer as a life-altering experience.

Seal broke through on the music scene in 1991 with his first album ‘Seal 1991’. It featured the major hit single “Crazy”, which flew into the UK charts at the number 2 spot. This hit was then covered by the heavy metal band Mushroomhead and featured in their 2003 album ‘XIII’.

In the years that followed, Seal worked on building a national profile. He participated in an album produced by Jeff Beck, as well as a tribute album to Jimi Hendrix. in 1994, the singer brought out his second album ‘Seal 1994’. This made a major impact enjoying success around the world. It included the single “Kiss from a Rose” which was used as the soundtrack of the film ‘Batman Forever’. The album and the single went on to win the Grammy Awards in 1996 for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

In the years that have followed, Seal’s career and personal life have been turbulent. It is now rumoured that he is working on a new studio album with a tour possibly being planned for 2020. Seal has become something of a recluse and it has even been suggested in certain quarters of the media that his career is winding down. It has been reported in ‘People with Money’ that he is the highest-paid singer in the world, earning an eye-watering $75 million between April 2018 and April 2019. This was described a being around $40 million ahead of his closest competition.

One thing is certain, Seal is a major talent who by following his talent and believing in it, has led to him becoming one of the most famous singer-songwriters in the world. Interested in more information about Seal then visit –   

The importance of discovering and following a passion.

Seal is yet another example of just how much can be achieved with drive and self-belief. When children come into the care system, it is entirely understandable that these are the qualities that will be lacking. Because 65% of children arriving in care have suffered some form of abuse or neglect, it is even more obvious that they will need significant help before they can even begin to imagine a bright future for themselves. These children need to recover. Fostering provision is recognising this with the advent of the therapeutically trained foster carer. Working with clinicians, they are doing essential work supporting the recovery programmes devised for children who have undergone these experiences. Once this work is completed, a foster carer is in a position to understand, support and encourage a child or young person. This is the most important thing that they can do. If they believe, a youngster will start to believe that they are entitled to have ambition. Starting this process off in the mind of a child is the crucial first step.

In supporting Foster Care Fortnight, we want to take this opportunity of thanking the country’s foster carers for the work they do. The biggest contribution, they make is to identify where it is a child or young person may have an interest and then encourage it. It’s likely there will be a few false starts as childhood is all about exploring different ideas and possibilities.

Rainbow goes the extra mile to support and nurture our foster carers so that they, in turn, can do the same for their children. So we run music workshops, art workshops and then support trips to museums and galleries aiming to provoke a spirit of wonder and possibility. Many children come into foster care feeling there is no future. We work with our foster carers to make them think that the future starts with every new day and that the possibilities are endless. Would many imagine that the son of a wig maker and a plumber, who went into foster care would live a life being lauded as one of the great musical talents of our age? The future is what our foster parents help to remake every day for the children they look after.

What does a career in fostering with Rainbow entail?

We can explain all the different categories of fostering there are: emergency, respite, short-term, long-term and permanent are just a few examples. You can choose which you might like to specialise in. Each will have its own rewards and challenges. It is very important; and we will guide you, to find out which kind of fostering will suit you and your family best.

We provide regular training sessions and you will be expected to attend these so you can build your knowledge and confidence. In the 21 years that we have been placing children with foster parents, we know that confident carers are more likely to produce children that are confident. This is why we place so much emphasis on supporting our foster parents. And our commitment to this was highlighted in our Ofsted rating, which found Rainbow to be ‘Outstanding’.

Teenagers, sibling groups and complex needs.

Our foster parents will be trained to look after for children and youngsters between the ages of 0 to 18. This is because there is such a shortage of carers for teenagers and sibling groups. We have also experienced situations where a foster carer had a preference for a child under the age of ten, but accepted a teenager as an emergency placement and found that hugely rewarding. It is important to stress that as a fostering agency, we always respect the preferences of our foster parents. There is never any pressure placed on a carer to accept a placement. The decision will always rest with that care or fostering family. That said, we are definitely interested in meeting people who will be interested in looking after a sibling group, teenager or a child with complex needs. Children with additional needs like this will need to be cared for therapeutically. Our website has a section on therapeutic fostering. Being trained to support children on therapeutic care recovery programmes means foster parents can earn up to £40k annually.

Rainbow looking now for applicants in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire.

Call our Head Office on 020 8427 3355: Alternatively, use our National Line 0330 311 2845. We make it possible for you to register your details in on our website and arrange for us to call back when it’s convenient for you. It’s a good idea for people to take a look at other pages on our website that address fostering generally and then specific areas such as therapeutic fostering:

And for general interest try:

And finally, don’t forget to catch up with the latest news on our Rainbow news page…

Foster care: a life-changing moment for three foster carers

May 22nd, 2019

Bridgend County Borough Council is another authority joining the ranks of those keen to take advantage of The Fostering Network’s annual campaign, Foster Care Fortnight. This is (cont).

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