Emma’s Fostering Blogs are by an experienced foster carer who gives you an honest and revealing insight into the ups and downs of foster care. A great resource for other carers and those interested in becoming carers.

Fostering Blogs

Selective Mute Blog

Emma’s fostering blog

Selective mute

James almost 18 and challenging because he is a selective mute (a phobia of speaking) he is also autistic. 

James would find it difficult in independent living as he needs constant prompts to just do every day things so he will be transitioning into Shared Lives; adult services and he will remain with us.

As his Foster carers it can be frustrating communicating with him and difficult in building a relationship. He has never spoken to any of us at home and we have never pressed this issue we just offer alternative methods so he can communicate his needs.

He doesn’t always nod, however he can write so we are constantly prompting him to use this method on his i-pad so we can know what his needs are and so he can take part in decision making meetings about him.

Although he is a selective mute we have to encourage him to join in by writing things down, thumbs up or down, nodding yes or no. It can be difficult at times when he ignores you completely, not acknowledging by shaking his head or nodding and has to be told.

Everyone includes James in conversation even if he chooses not to acknowledge this at times, and he will often rely on adults to talk on his behalf, and often the other adults end up turning to me for the answers, but I try and throw it back to James.

We are working on his independence skills; buying clothes, doing his laundry and learning to cook and budget. He has to have prompts to do things and he has a white board in his room to remind with everyday tasks; shower, wash his hair and dry it properly, use deodorant, shave or clean his teeth. We do worry as James is a loner; he has no friends, although he gets on well with the younger foster child and likes to links up on his games. Usually I can tell if he is happy because he likes to play Jokes which shows he has a sense of humour, smiles quite a lot. It is difficult as James does not care about his personal effects, easy come easy go; just replaces items with his DLA and James would be happy to just stay in his room all day and play games if he were allowed. Very firm boundaries work well for him; he is now in a good routine, likes College, is making progress, and now taking part in enrichment; from playing computer games all the time, now likes playing board and card games. We have spent some years looking for specialist help for him but really there isn’t anything out there that can help.

My thoughts are children and young people with special needs, even those with the most complex and challenging needs have different capabilities regarding decision-making, but they can make choices and achieve with ongoing support.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!

Fostering Blogs

Fostering | Maths

Emma’s fostering blog

Maths

Jack is 15 and it wasn’t long before we figured out that he was struggling with the everyday life concept of maths, and he still uses his fingers to count instead of using more sophisticated strategies.

We have all known that he does not always retain the information he has learned and so maths, money and time are his weakness. Jack has lots missing from his early years, concept of time, times table, the cost or how much change he should get back. I won’t always be here to help him and I want to teach him budgeting skills as one day he will be independent.

Jack has his pocket money, lunch and clothing money paid weekly into his bank account, he also has a direct debit going out for a magazine he is collecting. He has online banking to keep an eye on what he is spending, we managed to convince him to not have a contactless card because this was causing problems, however he still manages to spend his money too quickly which leaves him with nothing for the rest of the week.

It was my birthday, Jack loves celebrating any special occasions and always buys me such lovely cards and the words are just beautiful. This year he asked what I would like, I explained a card would be nice and perhaps just a token gift, not to spend money that he hasn’t got.

When I opened my present there was a beautiful candle in a jar, what a nice gesture, however I knew this wasn’t cheap. I saw this exact candle when I was out and as I thought it cost a lot. The next day Jack told me he hadn’t any money in his account and seemed surprised by this, but on further investigation he had spent all of his money on me.

After discussing the lovely but rather expensive present I ended up bailing him out and so I ended up paying for my own present.  He really struggles and we have many  issues we have to help him with; spending on online gaming, getting in debt because he has signed up to a trial, but forgotten to cancel it after the period is up and so money comes out.

On Monday Jack told me his money had not gone into his account so he didn’t have any, I thought it odd, but paid the amount in for him, but money did go in later that day; he ended up spending that money and the other money too.

My thoughts are occasionally we have to be that tough parent, he can make mistakes while he is in a safe place; he owed the money and now in debt he had to pay it back. If he was in his own place he would have been in trouble, no one to bail him out and so how would he manage with no money.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!

Fostering Blogs

Managers and directors

Emma’s fostering blog

Managers and directors

In the news and all over social media fostering is being discussed, and it’s about time.

I’m pleased about this, I have been an active foster carer for many years and seen many changes to the service, but for foster carers we just see more and more put on us. The expectations of policy and the high turnover of staff, and we just carry on the best we can.

I think it is important to recognise that there are many good social workers and managers out there who do have the foster carers and children’s best interests at heart. The main problems are that foster carers don’t have a transportable form F, an independent complaints procedure, workers’ rights or benefits.

For many years the system has abused our vulnerability and lack of employment status and now foster carers are fighting back and have joined IWGB union, as they are fighting for exactly this. Fostering needs to be about a mutually beneficial working environment between all parties and not alienating us from the people best placed to support us.

We need to get to the point where Local Authority and Independent Fostering agencies recognise the benefits to the quality of the service; carer retention, and that poor practice and bullying are not acceptable, as in any other work. If this was the case I don’t believe we would see so many superb social workers and carers leaving because they are unhappy about how things are, and it would be easier to recruit new foster carers, as we know happy foster carers spread the word.

The foster care system is under significant pressure, some of the most vulnerable young people in society are being failed by a system which doesn’t meet their needs, foster children currently face a lottery of care, the prospect of frequent moves from one home to another and even of separation from their siblings.

Services that foster carers could once tap into have all gone.

I think we all agree the system needs more money but until the government act on this, we have to carry on with what we have for the sake of the children. There are things that can be done now to ease the burden on foster carers; by having managers and directors who care and remember why they came into the job in the first place, and who want to make a difference to their work force under very difficult times.

Person centred, who actually have listening skills and give support and value their staff, so they can support the many professional foster carers who do an incredibly difficult but rewarding job.

My thoughts are Foster carers are providing an invaluable service for thousands of young people, but sadly we are not getting enough support. I want to be recognised and respected as a professional foster carer with safeguards and get on with doing the job I love.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!