Dr Sue fostering

Dr. Sue joins forces with Simply Fostering

Children in the care system

Have you ever lost something you know still exists? Perhaps it was an old picture, a sentimental letter or your favorite pair of shoes. Initially, you search and search for the item but you cannot recover it. It eats away at you, day after day, until you are lucky enough to be reunited with it. When this happens, you give a big sigh of relief, the panic eventually subsides and you move forward with your life.

This same scenario can apply to children in the foster care system. They have been separated from what is most precious to them, their families. They know that their family members still exist, but they cannot live with them. Clearly, those children who are reunited with their families feel a great sense of relief. The children who remain in care hold onto the hope of reunifying with their families as long as they are in foster care. Their losses are unresolved. It is ambiguous (Boss, 1999).

How Foster Parents Can Cope

Ambiguous loss can be difficult for many foster parents to comprehend if they do not have a clear understanding of its role in the foster child’s life. As outsiders, we expect the foster child to be as angry as we are at the biological parents who caused them pain. We cannot understand why the children want to have anything to do with their biological parents after being treated so badly. This may be our reality, but it is not the foster child’s reality. Extreme loyalty remains between the child and the biological family members, and hope of returning home is kept alive by phone contact or visits with biological parents who tell them that they are attempting to regain custody.

These statements by parents underscore for the children that reunification is not a fantasy; it can be a reality. Since the loss is unresolved, the child finds it very difficult to detach from their biological parents and attach to a new caregiver; their parents are still very much alive.

Foster parents can ease the transition for themselves and their foster children by recognizing the symptoms of ambiguous loss prior to the child entering the home. These symptoms often include:

  • Difficulty with changes and transitions, even seemingly minor ones like sleeping in a new bed
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed when asked to make a choice
  • Problems coping with routine childhood or adolescent losses (last day of school, death of a pet, move to a new home, etc.)
  • A sort of learned helplessness and hopelessness due to a sense that he has no control over his life
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Fear of attachment
  • Lack of trust. (www.nacac.org)

Dr. Sue

Dr. Sue is a Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  She received the award of Who’s Who Among Teachers and Educators in 2007 and 2009.   Dr. Sue is an expert in parenting with a  specialization in  foster care and child abuse. She is the National Foster Care/ Adoption Parenting Expert onhttp://www.examiner.com where she writes weekly articles on child abuse and parenting.

She is also the author of the training manual “The Ambiguous Foster Child: Attachment, Separation, Loss and Loyalty.” Themanual is based on Dr. Sue’s years of research and clinical work with foster children.

Dr. Sue strives to make positive changes within the foster care system one child at a time. She has counseled numerous abused and neglected foster children and has trained youth professionals on how to work effectively with foster

Dr. Sue is dedicated to giving  professionals, teachers and parents the tools they need to empower themselves and their children. She believes that every child deserves to have a life filled with happiness and success! She has appeared on numerous television (NBC,Fox, Comcast, ABCNews) and radio shows in the Philadelphia area and across the country.


Dr Sue’s Book  “The Ambiguous Foster Child”


Often we have saved foster children from abuse but we have failed to recognize that they still carry with them their feelings and memories of their biological families as they travel through the foster care system. To truly understand foster children?s lives you must get into their world! Then and only then we just may begin to understand their behaviours!

The workbook provides the foster parent a foundation to understanding the attachment, separation, loss and loyalty of a child entering family foster care and offers concrete parenting suggestions and strategies to assist the child in care better cope with their feelings.

Topics include::

  • Attachment
  • Attachment Formation Between a Caregiver and Child
  • Formation of a Healthy Attachment.
  • Attunement: Critical To Healthy Development
  • Formation of a Traumatic Attachment
  • Abused Foster Children’s Attachment Patterns To Their Biological Parents
    Dysfunctional Attachment
  • Foster Children and Attachment Trauma
  • The Six Question Separation Model
  • Types of Unresolved Losses
  • Ambiguous Loss
  • Loyalty Conflict
  • Strategies for Connecting with a Foster Child
  • Suggestions for Helping Children Manage Feelings of Ambiguous Loss

To purchase the workbook, click here

Fostering family

Fostering or Adoption? The differences

Adoption or Fostering?


Legal process – Court Order
Adoption is a legal process by which all parental rights and responsibilities are permanently transferred to the adoptive parents by a court. The child legally becomes part of the adoptive family, as if they had been born into it, usually taking the family’s surname.

Adoption has significant legal, emotional, psychological, and social consequences for the child, the adoptive parents, the birth parents and others.

After an Adoption Order has been granted there is no obligation upon adopters to remain involved with the Adoption Agency.

However, an Adoption Agency does have a legal obligation to offer you support and help when requested including a post – adoption service.

Adopters need to be aged 21 and over, single or married people can adopt. Couples who are not married can adopt, although not jointly. There are no set financial requirements for prospective adopters. The home can be rented, mortgaged or owned. The main requirement is the child has their own room.

If a prospective adopter has criminal convictions, it depends on the type and circumstances of the offence.

Gay people can adopt and there is nothing in law that prevents gay people from adopting children. You are able to adopt despite health or disability issues providing you can offer the right care and support to an adopted child.

Adults from ethnic minorities and who are dual heritage can adopt. Matching children to families with the same background and same race is often the best situation for successful adoption for children and families.

Can I afford to adopt?

People can adopt a child even if they are unemployed or not very well off. Although as with any parenting, you will be expected to meet the child’s financial needs, there are several types of financial support available to certain people. One-off payments, on some occasions help with initial costs of adoption such as travel costs and  ongoing contact with someone from their birth family.

There is ongoing financial support when certain children are eligible for a regular support package. This is means-tested. It is legally viewed as ‘non-profit making’ and so will not be taxable or affect your benefits.


Foster a child
Unlike adoption, fostering involves shared caring, and the child remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents. Most children placed in foster care return to their birth families or move on to independence. Where this is not possible, the local authority will look at alternatives, such as other relatives, or adoption or permanent fostering.

Children who need permanent families might be already in foster care and placed with short-term foster carers. If they are unable to return to their birth parents, the decision is often to place the child long term with foster carers or to look for adoptive parents, usually if the child or children are under five years of age. Whether fostering or adoption is for the child, most of the children will have been subject to abuse.

Fostering is the choice for most people who wish to have a part or full time job looking after children working from home. People who become foster carers tend to want to look after an open ended number of children throughout their fostering career.

To foster you must be over 21, but there is no upper age limit. You can be single, married, civil partners or living with a partner. You can be of any sexual orientation, have no children, have children still living at home or have grown up children who have left home.

You need a secure home with a spare room for one or more children and can be of any ethnicity, religion or nationality. If you have a criminal record, it needs to be free of any domestic or sexual violence or convictions against children.

You must be healthy enough to provide a caring stable home, you can work, be unemployed, but one person should be at home.

Can I afford to foster?

All foster carers receive an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child in their home. For foster carers working on behalf of an Independent Fostering agency, this is set by the individual agency, it can be dependent on age however is about £400 a week per child placed.

Local authority fostering use the National guidelines which recommend basic levels of allowances for foster carers which Local Authorities tend to use. The average rate per child per week is about £140 plus other fees.

It is of paramount importance to choose the right fostering agency, there are over seven hundred in the UK. Simply Fostering, the UK national foster carer recruitment website provides help by answering questions and identifying the most suitable local fostering agencies with vacancies.

Simply Fostering help people interested in becoming foster carers to act on the Government’s advice to ‘contact more than one Fostering Agency if you are interested in a fostering career’.

For comprehensive and easy to understand information, help and advice, contact Annette at Simply Fostering.

Foster carer Anne

A foster carers experience

Becoming a foster carer

Fostered for years
Deciding to be a foster carer seven years ago turned out to be more work than I expected but on the other hand, the most rewarding thing I have done other than get married and have my own children.

Fostering is for the children and I do it for the right reasons, to keep them safe for themselves and their families. It’s often hard to let go but it’s great seeing a family coming together and that makes giving them back much easier.

There is a price to pay as a fostering family, you have to work out how to give everyone enough time and attention so we all feel part of the family all of the time. Not only me but my kids have benefited from being part of fostering.

Borrowed children’s belongings
Through the difficult times, especially when their things got ‘borrowed’ by foster children, my kids were helped by the thought that they will never have to leave their family and that there is someone out there in a worse position than they are. There were times though when they were glad when certain children were moving on!

Even when I looked after children who had a really hard time from their parents, I know that most often the best place for children is to be with their own families.

Not all the parents have been abusive, one child’s parents had died and a couple had to have serious operations but most children had been hurt in one way or another, mainly because their parents could not cope with looking after them.

Every child I looked after had experienced loss and grief and all of them had mixed emotions about not living with their parents. I know social workers try very hard to keep families together and the ones I worked with so far feel frustrated and sometimes even angry about the lack of choices and support they have to give to families……it all seems to come down to money.

Fostered children
All I know is the children I’ve fostered have only needed someone they can trust and a warm bed and good food to start feeling better. The next step has almost always been to make sure they have contact with their family which can bring it’s own problems, a big thing about being a foster carer means you need to help children keep in contact with their family.

Some, but not many children have been relieved to be in foster care but most want more than anything to be back with their families, even if a parent or relative has abused them. I haven’t met a foster child who wasn’t confused and angry about being put in foster care and when you talk to them they are either angry at themselves believing they are to blame, or angry at their parents for letting them down.

I see a big part of a foster carer’s job is to help a foster child to understand why they feel like they do and that they should feel ok about it. How can children and older kids cope with life without help? Life has dealt them a rotten hand sometimes and they need help to learn to cope. Sometimes they scream and yell, or run away, or hurt themselves, or hurt other people.

Recently I have been taking Parent and Child placements which offer a home to a baby or young child together with its parent. This is usually for a period for between 12-24 weeks. It may be that a parent has not had a good life and help from a foster carer can give them more skills and even a better chance to keep the child.

Footballers stand by Simply Fostering at David Hughes Testimonal

Footballers stand by Simply Fostering

Testimonial match
David Hughes match at Leigh United had a number of current and ex football stars and managers, who all support Fostering Fortnight (11th-24th May) and Simply Fostering in their drive to address the shortfall of 10,00 foster carers nationwide.

The line up includes which includes : Rodney Wallace(Ex England U21, Leeds, Southampton, Rangers and Bolton), David Howells (Ex Spurs and Southampton), Jo Tessem (Ex Norwegian International and Southampton), Paul Tisdale( Southampton & current Exeter manager), Michael Svensson (Ex Swedish International and Southampton), Matt Le Tissier (Ex England and Southampton), Matt Oakley (England U21, Southampton, Derby and current Leicester captain), Claus Lundekvam (Norwegian International and Southampton), Richard Dryden (ex Southampton and Birmingham), David Hughes (Ex Wales and Southampton), Nicky Banger (Ex Southampton and Oldham) and Francis Benali (Ex Southampton)



Shaleum Logan of Manchester City and on the right, ex Bolton and Scunthorpe footballer, Peter Morrison ‘stand by Simply Fostering’