Brenda McLackland Cilinical

Brenda McLackland Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Are we getting the transitions right?

I’d be interested to hear what both foster carers and adopters think about this question. There is usually a range of opinionsabout moving a child from foster care to adoption. These range from; do it quickly to avoid prolonging the upset to;providea more gradual and planned process where foster carers and adopters meet up before, during and after thetransition.

Recent research by Boswell and Cudmore (2014) suggests that promoting the foster carer-adopter relationship might be best for all concerned. Anecdotally I have heard stories of adopters and foster carers making these links informally therefore presumably endorsing this approach. I guess when we look at other transitions in a child’s life such as starting Nursery or School the handover is gradual, planned and relationships are maintained between the adults.

Given that a child in the care system probably has a traumatic history of separations this transition would seem to be a good place to start a more therapeutic approach to the process. I have heard of the relief experienced by both foster carers and adopters when contact after adoption is suggested. Helping the child feel settled and happy is usually their shared goal.

As Boswell and Cudmore suggest perhaps training and support should be available to foster carers and adopters on the emotional aspects of this transition for them and the child. As they state, ‘current procedures are out of synch with some of the fundamental principles established in attachment theory and a rethinking of these procedures is needed to rectify this.’ (p19).

Reference

Boswell, S., and CudmoreL. (2014) ‘The children were fine’: acknowledging complex feelings in the move from foster care into adoption.’ Adoption and Fostering. Vol 38(1) 5-21.

 

Brenda McLackland Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Simply Fostering Cathy Mayes

Cathy Mayes Independent Trainer/Facilitator

Why I Never Turn Down a Chance to Learn

Continued professional development, training and learning: It’s all in the word. “Continued” suggests that you will carry on doing it; just as training suggests that you will be taught it, learning and development suggests that you will take it away and develop it.  And it really is a career-long process.

In my experience the word ‘training’ seems to turn some foster carers away from learning opportunities; and not just foster carers, I have heard similar excuses from social care staff. I have heard every excuse available;over twenty years’ experience and therefore do not need training. Others tell me that they have brought up their own children and so they know what they are doing, ‘there is too much to do; I don’t have time to attend training’.

So is there some deep-rooted human fear that lies behind this negative attitude to taking the risk to improve what we do and how we do it? Are we scared of admitting that we don’t know it all? Well if we are professional we certainly shouldn’t be. Being aware of our own shortcomings is a valuable first step on the path to helping others to face up to, and cope with, theirs.

I find that facilitators can be quite nervous when invited to deliver a session, I know I am. But when I stop being nervous or anxious,then I will retire!None of us knows everything, but I do know that every single time I have delivered training, facilitated learning or attended a foster carer support group or meeting; I have learned something from the group or an individual.

Maybe foster carers don’t realise what a valuable asset they are, how much knowledge they can share, drawing on invaluable first-hand experience. All foster carers, experienced or new who attend a session are potentially immense assets to the group and to the facilitator. There is an important role for the experienced foster carer in supporting other carers,sharing knowledge, mentoring or just plain listening. As do those new to the game. (We can all welcome a fresh take on an old problem!)No two placements are the same because no two children are the same. What we thought we knew can sometimes fade into the background and we need to find a new approach meeting the needs of a new child or young person in placement.

Learning, in any form, is all about sharing knowledge. It is about networking, meeting other people and building relationships to provide a supportive team around the child, family and foster carer. So next time you hear there is a training session coming up think about what you can give, as well as what you can take away.

It is important to acknowledge, and to give credit to, other ways of learning and building knowledge. E-learning may be preferred by some, reading books, articles, research, or using the internet also builds your knowledge base. Discussions, television and radio programmes also promote learning. The advice I would give for everyone involved with continued professional development and learning is to keep a detailed record of literature and programmes that you have found useful. Not only will it create an evidential resource that would be useful for your review, but you can pass information to others who may prefer to learn using these media.

Learning is good. Go for it, share your knowledge!

nurture pebbles

News Roundup

Simply Fostering News

June 2015

Foster Care Fortnight  2015

Foster Care Fortnight 2015 was launched on 1st June and will run until 14th June this year. The annual campaign, which raises awareness about fostering, is co-ordinated by the charity The Fostering Network and hopes to encourage people to foster a child. As part of this year’s recruitment campaign the focus will be on finding homes for children who have disabilities, for sibling groups of children and also teenagers.

With the number of children coming into foster care rising, Foster Care Fortnight will provide plenty of opportunity for exposure in the media which will help to raise the profile of fostering. Fostering services all around the UK, including independent fostering agencies and local authorities, will be participating in this year’s campaign and will be working towards the recruitment of more foster carers.

Teenagers in Care Moved Too Often

Research carried out by the fostering charity The Fostering Network has shown that teenagers who are living in foster care in the UK are being moved too frequently. The survey, based on 1600 children in foster care, showed that a quarter of fostered teenagers are living in at least their fourth foster family, over a third are in their third foster home and one sixth are in their fifth.

A spokesman from the charity has spoken about how being moved from foster home to foster home can have a negative effect on a child’s well-being, their education and their ability to create and maintain relationships with people. It also means that often, teenagers are living away from family members and are separated from their siblings.  According to the charity, the figures reflect the need for more carers, over 8,000 in the coming years, to meet the demand.

New BBC Documentary Series  Announced

A new BBC documentary is due to be aired on 7th June, called Protecting Our Foster Kids. It follows on from the previous successful documentary called Protecting Our Children, which was BAFTA nominated in 2012. The new social care series will focus on foster children and carers in Dorset and the social workers from Dorset council who work with them.

The series will offer access to the foster families and the professionals they work with, and will provide an insight into the difficulties in providing placements when there is high demand for more foster carers.

Sainsburys Donate Toys for Local Event in Sandwell

A supermarket in the West Midlands has made a generous donation of toys for foster children in Sandwell. Sainsbury’s store in Oldbury supported a participation event at the Coneygre Centre, Tipton, where foster carers and their foster children enjoyed arts and crafts, music and other fun activities.

The support from Sainsburys was praised by Councillor Simon Hackett, who said the contribution they gave enabled the event to be bigger and better for the children and young people who are looked after by Sandwell Children’s Services.