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Education

Fostering Blog

An enjoyable weekend. Nice and relaxed before the big day of James (name changed) returning to school. It’s going to be strange for both of us. For James it’s a new school, new people and new teachers.

I’m sure he will cope as he appears quite resilient and he is also social so should mix and make friends easily. For me, it’s back to days by myself and not having a little helper under my feet. I’ve agreed with James that I will do the school run, there and back, for the first week and then we’ll play it by ear.

We’ve also agreed on timetables. So no computer until his homework is completed and then he gets everything ready for the next day. After that it’s dinner and chill out time with bedtime at 10. In the morning it’s up at 7, bathroom and breakfast and then getting dressed for school.

It helps so much to have a proper routine for school days both for him and me. I’m going to miss having the young fella around in the daytimes and it will certainly be quieter, but it gives me time to catch up on paperwork and those household chores which I enjoy so much.

Got my annual training schedule to catch up on. We have to do 3 sessions per year and, due to the Virus, I haven’t done any. I get a list of courses, the venues and who the trainer is.

I look at what I haven’t done yet and book myself in. I actually enjoy them, it’s good to learn new things and it’s amazing how relevant they are during your career in Fostering. I remember learning about the pleasures of Family Group Conferences (FGC).

I had never attended one or thought I ever would but then had two within a year, both for sibling groups we were caring for. The first wasn’t a huge success. It was basically the children’s Mum spending an hour slating Social Services, the Social Worker and us. It was very difficult not to respond but I acted very professionally and didn’t say a word.

The second was sad and amusing in equal measures. The sibling group had come to us as an emergency placement and ended up staying for a couple of years. There had been a lot of issues around food and this played out in front of us as Mum demanded that the children ate every scrap of the food laid on for the meeting.

Two of the children vomited due to overeating and the other two weren’t far from it. Mum thought this meeting, and any others, were all about her and not the children therefore a strong chairperson was needed to ensure that the meetings were more children focussed. But even then Mum would state how hard done by she was and how much it hurt not having the children with her, even though she had put the children in care and had refused every opportunity for the children to return.

That placement was one of the most stressful I have experienced even though there was two of us caring at the time. I could write about ten blogs on that placement but that’s for another time.

A Blogging Foster Carer’s Diary.

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Long Days

Fostering Blog

I can remember those first days of the school term. The excitement of seeing your mates, getting a new timetable, finding out when you had games and PE. Then there was a new form teacher and, possibly, new class mates.

For James (name changed) he was starting at a new school as a Looked After Child (LAC) and without knowing anybody. This is a huge task after everything else he has been through. He was up at a decent time and said he hadn’t slept very well. He had breakfast and he was jabbering away about a dream he had and what were we having for dinner that night.

We had a final check that he had everything that he needed. I reminded him about our conversation regarding not offering up any information about being a LAC although it was nothing to be ashamed of. Tell people that he just moved to the area.

We left in plenty of time and arrived early. So I took him into the school office where we were introduced to everyone and I left him there. On arriving home it seemed very quiet. I tidied up, washed up, put some washing on and sat down with a coffee. I then emailed his Social Worker just to update her on the morning’s events. So what to do now?

The phone rang a couple of times during the day and I answered immediately, worried that something had happened. But it was marketing calls and I just disconnected.

I updated my fostering diary and checked to make sure I was up to date with everything. The clock soon ticked around to 3pm and I set off early in order to get a parking space. I parked up opposite the gate and waited for James to come out.

The kids started coming out and I was delighted to see James come out with two other boys, chatting and laughing. He saw me, waved to his new friends and jumped in the car. I then received an update on his day, the teachers, the other kids and how much he enjoyed his day.

I headed off and instead of driving home I took James for a Nandos as a kind of ‘well done’ treat.

Once we got home he got changed and showed me his contact book which stated that he had had a good day and had no homework. He got his gear ready for the next day and we settled down for some TV. I had a call from his Social Worker stating that Mum had kicked off about not being kept in the loop about his school and demanding to know where the school was.

Just as we finished that conversation James’ phone started buzzing, he looked at it and said that it was his Mum and ignored it. For the next hour or so it buzzed and buzzed as she tried to get through, but he kept ignoring it.

I told him that I would speak to his Social Worker the following day and take her advice. He went off to bed at 10pm and was out like a light. It had been a long day but he seemed happy about most of it and seemed positive.

A Blogging Foster Carer’s Diary.

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Foster Caring

Fostering Blog

With the rubbish weather it gave us the opportunity to sit and chat about life in general. James (name changed) has opened up a lot more recently and was telling me more about his life before coming into care.

It’s always hard, in these situations, not to interrupt or to make comments. My advice is not to say anything, let the young person talk, without interruption, and just listen. That way you will get more out of the child and the words will flow a lot easier.

Some of the details I have heard over the years have been heart breaking and make you wonder why people decide to become parents. The level of abuse has been awful in some cases and it is obvious that the young person will need some form of psychological assistance in later life.

I lost my Mother at a young age and it had a really profound effect on me as a young man, however the rest of my childhood was pretty positive.

For a young person to go through physical and mental abuse, be without essentials such as decent clothing and food, to witness acts of violence and drug use and in one case witness their Mum working as a Prostitute that is going to have a serious effect.

It is sad when you sometimes have contact with a young person who you cared for and see that they have followed in the same path as their parents, it’s like a form of learned behaviour.

James has had a number of withheld number calls and is of the opinion that it’s his Mum. He’s told me that he has no wish to talk to her, something I have told his Social Worker.

I have asked him on a couple of occasions if he wants to stick with no contact and he has agreed. I’ve suggested maybe an email just highlighting what is going on in his life and maybe an update regarding school without naming the school, obviously.

He has said that he will think about it and has asked if I would help him with it, if he decides to do it. But he is still feeling very positive about school and has had a chat with his mates about it. I promised him that after his first week at school I will drive him over to see his mates as some of them, and their parents, provided James with a great deal of support in difficult times. James likes that idea and has called his friends to ask them to keep that weekend free.

So we are now playing FIFA on the Play-Station and I’m letting James win, honestly, so he doesn’t go to bed with the hump. I like the fact that he is competitive; it’s a trait that will serve him well as he gets older. He seems to want to prove people wrong especially family and his old school teachers. I will encourage that for the time that he is with me and offer all the support he needs over the coming weeks or months.

A Blogging Foster Carer’s Diary.