Hobbies Blog

Fostering Blog.

Hobbies.

So James (name changed) has a new hobby! I was sitting in my lounge watching one of the cooking programmes, as a break from football, when James came into the room, after a bath.

He said that he enjoyed watching the cooking programmes. I asked if he ever cooked at home but he said that Mum wouldn’t let him. So I said that we would go out and he could buy some ingredients and cook the evening meal.

So we set off for Sainsbury’s, with masks, for a shop. After browsing and me dropping subtle hints for a simple recipe, James decided on lamb steaks with potatoes and broccoli. He was very excited about cooking and was jabbering all the way home about it. Part of the agreement was that he cleared up afterwards, which I guessed he may conveniently forget. I said that we would start dinner at 6 and he went to get changed, obviously into his cooking clothes!

So 6 came around and I went into the kitchen and got the dishes and utensils out that he would need to cook. The steaks were cooked in the oven and James peeled the spuds and prepared the broccoli. After half an hour we had, what looked, a decent meal.

We sat to eat it and it was very enjoyable. James then started washing up but I let him use the dishwasher as a reward for his cooking. I asked him if he had ever thought of cooking as a career but he said that Mum told him it was a ‘girl’s job’ so he hadn’t taken it any further. So out came the laptop and we sat on the settee looking at catering courses, just to show him what he needed to achieve and the fact that half the students shown were male.

This is one of the most satisfying parts of Fostering, the ability to maybe show young people that they can achieve anything they want and that being in care is not a barrier to being a success in life. So many of these young people have such negative self-perception and it’s heart-breaking to hear some of the comments that they have had to endure regarding their future.

Too many of these young people end up not fulfilling their potential as they consider being in care as block to their career prospects and I always try to instil into the placements I have, that are 14 plus, that they can really achieve anything with hard work.

When I first started training, many years ago, I remember being told that if a young person remembers one thing that you tell them in later life, than you have done a good job, and I still strongly believe that. Too many young lives are being wasted and too many simply following the same destructive path as their parents.

So James is now really ‘pumped’ about cooking. I have given him two of my old cooking books, which were never used, and he has asked me to send of for details of the college courses that would be available, albeit in 2 years’ time.

It’s great to see his enthusiasm for something, other than football.

Blogging Foster Carer Diary.

Social Workers Blog

Fostering Blog

Social Workers

Social Workers, don’t you just love them? Being a Foster Carer means you get involved with all sorts of Social Workers, from the excellent to the ‘oh my god how did you ever qualify?’ If you are working with the excellent ones then it makes life, and the placement, so much easier.

Regular placement meetings, regular phone calls and putting into action what’s been agreed at meetings are all the type of things you can expect from a clued up Social Worker.

At the other end of the scale, well, non-attendance at meetings, lack of support and lack of awareness of regulations are some of the issues I have experienced. These problems aren’t with new qualified Social Workers either.

The worst Social Worker I worked with had 18 years’ experience!

I remember her taking a placement to a contact with a sibling in North London. They were due back about 5pm and when it got to 7pm I started to worry. I called the Social Worker and she answered, obviously very flustered. She had got on the wrong train and was in Hertfordshire, I lived in Kent!! Other than being hopeless on public transport she actually fell asleep in a review meeting.

James (name changed) is a happy little soldier. We did some school work today (yes, we) and he got some great remarks from his teacher. We had a zoom meeting so I could introduce myself and we established some areas where James needs assistance, especially with Maths. Now I haven’t actually done any maths work for probably 40 years but it helps having a son who is a teacher. So my son did a zoom lesson with James which seemed to work very well.

I also have a friend who is Head of Languages in a private school and he, very kindly, also agreed to do a zoom lesson with James. I left them to it but when I returned to the room there was lots of laughter and James learning to say ‘your cooking is rubbish’ in Spanish. We had a phone call from his Social Worker today regarding the thorny issue of contact with Mum.

Mum has, again, asked for contact and, of course, money to help her travel to the contact centre. I put the phone on loudspeaker so that James could be part of the conversation. He said that he missed his Mum but he didn’t like the upset of her not turning up for contact.

He stated that he was happy with telephone contact and it was agreed that the Social Worker would go back to Mum and discuss it further.

Mums kicked off! Apparently it’s my fault James doesn’t want contact, face to face, and she is saying that the Social Worker should insist on her having contact.

I heard James’ phone ringing constantly and I asked if he was ok. He said that Mum had shouted at him down the phone and he had disconnected the call. In the end he actually switched his phone off as it was becoming too much for him.

So we did the best thing and binge watched football and ate pizza, thus saving him from using the Spanish he had learned earlier.

A blogging foster carer’s Diary.

 

Family – Friends – Future

Fostering Blog

14/07

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.