Category Archives: Fostering

What can you tell me about…

One of the major issues still arising within foster care, is the lack of information given to carers.

A recent survey published by the Fostering Network, where Foster carers were asked “Are you given all the information you need about a fostered child before they move in, to look after them and others in the household safely?”

 

The survey highlights some concerning issues in the way information sharing is being dealt with, as only 9% actually said they were “always given the information needed” and 6% saying that “information sharing ‘never happened”. In fact 23% of the carers who took part; said “they were rarely given the information they needed.”  32% said “this mostly happened” and 31% were saying “they were sometimes given this information’.

 

As foster carers; we know how important it is that we have the information needed to safely care for the child. Whilst we accept that emergency placements happen with very little warning and information, this should be rectified as soon as possible.

As professionals we must be ensuring that we receive the information needed to keep both the child and ourselves safe. We need to know as much about the child as possible so that we can help and encourage them reach their potential.

 

This is an area where real change is needed. But is this really a piece of a much bigger puzzle? Does the real issue lie with how fosters carers are still viewed within the care system?

 

Clearer understanding must be shown of the key role foster carers have within the ‘Team around the child’, I love this quote from Debbie Booth a foster carer speaking at the Fostering Network’s conference 2007.

 

“If I am not a crucial part of the team who works around the child, then what am I?

 

If I am not paid for the time and skills I dedicate to the child I care for, does that mean that my time, those skills and that child are worthless?

 

I am regulated, monitored, assessed and standardised, reviewed and approved.

 

I write reports, attend meetings, submit forms, keep my paperwork in order, record my days, attend training, as well as wipe noses and bottoms, sing songs and read stories, and act as mother, teacher, taxi driver, counsellor, therapist, nurse, spiritual advisor, confidante, rule giver, cook, nutritionist, careers advisor, pillow, whipping boy, moderator, IT consultant, advocate, bank manager, librarian, encyclopaedia, legal advisor and just be there…

 

If I am not a professional, does that make me an amateur?”

 

The professionalism of foster carers is something that needs to be recognised and respected, not just within the care system, but across society as a whole. Though there is a great deal of room for growth, foster carers must also play our part, it’s essential we continue our development, undertaking relevant training and by treating all members of the care profession with the respect we so desire, and with time we will be recognised and respected for being the front line of care for vulnerable children.

 

 

My third blog post for Progress Care, read this and others over at Foster Care with Progress.

Fostering Network Conference

Last week I attended the Fostering Network Conference in London held in the beautiful surroundings of the BMA House in Tavistock Square.

The conference was open to anyone work worked within the field including, foster carers, social workers, senior management and policy makers.

The theme of the conference was the “Future of Foster Care” and each speaker brought their own interpretation of what this means from their own perspectives and fields.

I cannot fit into one post all that I took away from this conference but what I do really want to share firstly is what I felt was at the heart of the day.

“The children.”

Regardless of which field the speakers came from the core overview was that the needs of the child should always be in the forefront of every decision made and every piece of policy written.

No matter how many professionals involved in a child’s life we should always remember we are the “team around the child”.

The need for a child to be listened to and their views taken into consideration at all times was paramount.

This point was reiterated when we heard from three care leavers who bravely and elegantly shared their care experiences with us.

Each one spoke about the loss of control of their own lives being a hard thing to accept. Whilst they accepted that some decisions needed to be taken by professionals the desire to be consulted, informed was extremely important to them.

They just wanted to be heard.

One explained that for him this was especially important regarding contact and information regarding his birth family. He understood that seeing his birth mother was not a positive thing for him but he still wanted to know about her and who she was.

‘By understanding my mom’s journey I was able to move forward with my own’.

As foster carers we are the ones there with the children every day. This conference was a great reminder that we really need listen to the children but also how important it is for us to advocate for the children with other professionals.

We are their voices and their advocates and this is something we need to be extremely pro-active in doing.

 

 

You can find this blog and others written by me over at Foster with Progress Care 

Fostering is a career.

I’m excited to share with you the news that I am now blogging over at the Fostering with Progress blog where for the next 6 months I will be writing a number of articles on a variety of foster care subjects.

As many of you know I have been fostering now for over five years and I am extremely passionate about what I do.

Here is my first post which I am also sharing here; as I think it is interesting for all not just foster care professionals.

 

One of the most common misconception’s regarding foster caring is that it’s just like raising your own children. A agonizing stereotype I know, yet this limited perspective of what is really involved, also leaves many believing that you need to have raised your own children to be a foster carer which actually is not the case. 

Quickly I shall dispel other common pigeonholed viewpoints, yes; you can be a parent already, no you don’t need to previously have had a child of your own. Your marital status, sexuality, religious or cultural background will also not prevent you from fostering.

Fostering is a profession, it involves a skill set that extends well beyond the typical parenting prowess, yet the only real qualification you need to have is the desire to support and guide children. There are various types of fostering; including Emergency, Short- term, Long-term, leaving care, short break, parent and baby, and specialist care, yet all share an identical factor, the placement of children, whom through no fault of there own have been separated from their birth family and are often vulnerable, damaged and hurt. 

In the best cases you are dealing with bereavement, while the worst circumstances can involve abuse and, or neglect, at first this seems a rather bizarre assertion, the cold reality however, is a child who has suffered neglect / abuse, or even both, often suffer with more psychological stresses and fears.   

Unlike most caring professions, fostering gives a new meaning to the term full-time, it’s far cry from shift based employment, and you don’t get to go home and leave it all behind. Fostering isn’t easy and to be truthful it shouldn’t be, it’s a profession, which holds the wellbeing of a child in its hands. Yet as a foster carer you can lead a fulfilled career whilst making a difference in the life of a child, plus you can achieve personal development and qualifications that are suited across the care sector. Though each company is different, my agency; Progress Care; certainly encourages us to extend our skill set and education.

While money should never be the reason you become a foster carer, an income is necessary for the majority to be able to foster, the provision of a living wage enables us carers to flourish in a role that can be exhausting and challenging and yet personally for me, has been so rewarding.

You get to make a difference in the life of a child, complete job satisfaction.