This year it has been widely reported that there is a shortfall of over 9,000 families in the UK for child fostering. So it is timely that The Fostering Network’s initiative exploring the potential benefits of social pedagogy to child fostering is now being evaluated. The initial results for ‘Head, Heart, Hands’; as the initiative is styled, are encouraging. This should not be altogether surprising since social pedagogy principles include placing the foster carer(s) at the very heart of the team around the child. Indications are that this has led to carers feeling a sense of empowerment. What is especially good is that the children involved are displaying increased levels of well being, confidence and emotional resilience. And even better, the same results can be shown for the foster carers themselves. Should we be surprised by this? Fortunately for many – especially the children and young people – we have had the energy and passion of The Fostering Network to drive this initiative forward, but when we think in simple terms about the empowerment carers have felt, it becomes obvious that simple logic and respect are critical to understanding why the results are looking positive. So without the jargon, it appears that the approach taken has been to place foster carers at the centre of the team around the child, give them the primary role and make this visible and obvious to all involved. In terms of why the results are encouraging, we are really dealing with quite a simple aspect of human nature at work here: respect. The government has for many years behaved in ways that have left those child fostering feeling under valued. Reshaping the way foster carers are perceived can only be to the good. This will also have positive effects with regard to recruitment and retention of people regarding child fostering. For more information on social pedagogy visit http://bit.ly/2gH26lY
The foster carers have been given training in social pedagogic concepts and repositioned within the overall process of fostering. The subtext of such moves in simple human terms, is that carers simply feel respected and valued and therefore feel empowered. Again, this is not surprising – whatever walk of life or activity a person is engaged in, should they start to feel undervalued, a predictable downward spiral in attitude kicks in. At this point, we should really celebrate all carers providing child fostering since their resilience; compared to most, really is deeply impressive: they do one of the most demanding and important jobs that can be done for the nation and have for years not been recognised and valued for this work. We are all to blame to some extent, but government is culpable for failing to stand up and saluting the astonishing and selfless work many foster carers do on behalf of us all. In the past, there were old style government funded and produced public service announcements on television and radio. However patronising these may seem to us today, they were at least the proof of a recognition that society did need at key moments to be collectively addressed over matters of national importance. Given the huge cost implications for the criminal justice system, and the health service caused by children falling through the net after failed placements, we are probably at just such a key moment.
The previous Chancellor George Osborne had been aiming, before Brexit, to balance the books within the medium term. The UK faces a deal of economic uncertainty with the Office for Budget Responsibility expecting the national debt to increase by £220bn over a five-year period, resulting in a new total of £1.945 trillion in 2021. All this means that budgets across all state provided services are likely to come under increasing strain over the next few years. So now is not the time for false economies. The results of the ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ initiative create a window of opportunity: the value government attaches to foster carers needs to be reappraised to address the shortfall of people willing to consider child fostering.
Considering child fostering: explore our ‘Rainbow Rewards’
Thinking of child fostering – perhaps fostering babies or teenagers? Whatever the ages of youngsters you wish to care for, Rainbow is a London fostering agency providing all the support you need: and a bonus! If you refer someone, £500 will be paid to you: you’ll receive the money once your referral has been approved with the first placement being accepted. Current foster carers considering transferring to the Rainbow Fostering network could also qualify for a bonus under our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ scheme. This will take the form of a payment once approved, for carers who already have youngsters placed with them on a long-term basis. Rainbow is an independent fostering agency striving to attract people dedicated to child fostering as a way of life. Call our specialist fostering recruitment team on 020 8427 3355 for more details. Or leave your contact information on our web site – we will be delighted to contact you at a time of your choosing.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…December 3rd is upon us so we are all getting our ‘glad rags’ out to celebrate our 18th Anniversary in style. The occasion, our Annual Carer’s Awards at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel. So we’re all hoping for a memorable evening and here’s to the next eighteen years!