So today was the day that James (name changed) was due to return to his Mum’s. I did wonder if he would be a bit down or a bit reflective but he woke up in a good mood and ate his breakfast.
I asked if he wanted to go out but he seemed to be happy sitting indoors and relaxing. I got an understanding of how difficult the lockdown had been for parents of teenagers and younger children. James listened to some music on his headphones and I encouraged him to listen to some different music, which he seemed to enjoy. He then played Play-station whilst I updated my diary.
A Foster carer’s diary is an essential part of your kit. I use mine religiously. Sometimes it’s the little things which can make a difference so I always take ten minutes to record events of the day, however irrelevant they may seem. I also use mine to record financial transactions, savings, pocket money, etc.
I always keep all receipts for buying clothes, pocket money and items such as phone top ups etc. You’ll be amazed how this comes in handy if the dreaded parental complaint comes in at the end of the placement.
Like most carers, I have had complaints, both as a single carer and when I fostered with my ex-wife, complaints were an everyday consequence of the work we do. Complaints range from food, clothing and even one about the brand of trainer bought for a placement. In most cases it is the parent’s frustrations at the positive treatment and care you have provided for your placed young person, in other cases it’s the parent’s dislike of the system that makes the Foster carer a target.
Carers have to accept, unfortunately, that’s complaints are part of our job. Let your Supervising Social Worker (SSW) do their job and make sure your diary is up to date.
Do not take a complaint personally, difficult I know, and, if the child is still in placement, do not openly moan or criticise the parent(s) in front of the child. Working with a parent, or parents, can be frustrating and sometimes be more difficult than the child themselves but it’s part of the job and needs to be accepted as that.
So James has had his fill of PlayStation and wants to talk. What career did I think he should look at? I had no idea of his performance at school but he came across as being bright and he liked to read a book which I always take as a positive. So I asked him what he wanted to do.
He fancied the armed forces, so we discussed the pros and cons of that. He suggested the Police or Fire Service and we talked about how he could aim towards that.
I suggested Apprenticeships which he seemed quite interested in. He said that he enjoyed school, especially Sport and History. I asked him he wanted to do A levels but he said that his Mum had said that she thought he should go to work at 16, as soon as he left school.
Without criticising Mum, I pointed out that leaving school that early might not be a positive thing and that further education would be beneficial for him long term. I think this conversation could be a long one.
A Foster Carer’s Blogging Diary.