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Contact with their Mum and Dad

Like many foster children Beth and Harry have contact with their family.  For Beth and Harry this means they spend 2 hours a month with their Mum.

This contact is supervised and for a long time we would meet at a Contact Centre, thankfully this has changed as it was agreed that they are able to meet in the community which is far more fun and a more natural environment for everyone. They also see their Dad but contact with him is not as frequent.

They see their Dad around 4 times a year, he was offered more but unfortunately, he didn’t feel he was able to commit to more. Personally, I respected him for his honesty and glad he didn’t just agree to every other month and then let them down, which would have been far more damaging.

The children have asked for more contact with their Dad, obviously this is a tricky conversation and as yet it has not been explained to Beth and Harry that this is their Dad’s choice but I’ve no doubt at some point in the future this will have to be explained.

For the most part contact with their parents is always positive, they look forward to seeing them and at the end of their time together, they leave happy and surprisingly they don’t cling on to them at the end, they just say their goodbyes and skip off into the car, keen to get home.

On the very few occasions whereby they have been let down and contact has been cancelled by either Mum or Dad and normally on the day, this can be a different story all together, the disappointment is palpable.

You can almost see the realisation across their faces, what could possibly be more important than seeing me?

For me contact is so important, they need to stay connected to their family that they love so very much, and I sincerely hope that in the future when its their choice they will choice to continue a relationship with them. 

Beth and Harry like so many of us, put both their Mum and Dad on a pedestal, I worry sometimes how they are going to feel when they have to face some of the harder hitting facts about why they are in care, but I know and understand they will always love them and why shouldn’t they, they are their Mum and Dad after all.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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Helen’ Fostering Blog

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are a very sore subject in our house and a constant bone of contention for Harry. Poor Harry desperately wants a mobile phone and he is not allowed one until he is 12 years old.  Obviously, this is one of the many decisions we are unable to make on the children’s behalf.

Harry is only 9 at the moment and 3 years can feel like an awfully long time for a young person.  Understandably he also doesn’t understand why all of his friends that are the same age as him are allowed phones and he is not.

From very early on when they moved in with us the subject of having a mobile phone came up.  I was unsure what the general consensus was on the children having a mobile phone, So I asked the children’s Social Worker.

I have to admit initially I was shocked that the age was put at 12 as it seems many children these days have them as young as 8.  Don’t get me wrong I can’t honestly say I was disappointed, the last thing I needed to be concerned about on top of everything else was them both having a phone, lets face it they are constantly losing and breaking things at this stage, Harry even managed to lose a pair of school shoes recently.

I have had endless conversations with Harry about why he is not able to have a mobile phone yet, I pointed out that he has an iPad and a PlayStation, and that he doesn’t actually need a phone yet.  All of these conversations end in tears with him saying its not fair! its just because I am fostered that I can’t have a phone.  I do feel for him, its hard enough as he is already feeling different from his friends and let’s face it at 9 all we really want is to fit in.

When I meet him at the school gates at the end of the day all of his friends are on their phones, swapping numbers, text messages and watching YouTube videos, my heart sinks every time when I see his little face, involved but on the outer edge.

From my point of view I get it, mobile phones are nothing but trouble, we are always getting emails from the school stating that there has been an issue during the week due to Whatsapp or Tick Tok, but the pressures to fit in are just as difficult. 

I’ve no doubt when he finally gets a phone on his 12th birthday there will be bigger issues for us to have to worry about, but one things for certain he will be one very happy boy that day, lets just hope he don’t lose it!

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer.

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Helen’s Fostering Blog

When professional help is needed.

Right from the beginning of our placement it was a known fact that Beth would need counselling for the trauma she was suffering, what I wasn’t aware of was just how difficult and how long it was going to be for her to be able to access this much needed help.

When Beth first came to live with us we were already aware that she understandably required some professional help due to the circumstances surrounding the reasons that she came into care in the first place.

It was also apparent by the many the signs of trauma she was displaying.  Beth had severe anxiety about sleeping, the need to control everything, she was unable to self-regulate, she was excessively clingy, an inability to pay attention, angry outbursts, feelings of guilt, low-self-esteem, she was emotionally numb, mood swings and she had a form of self-harm in that she would bite herself.

Obviously, these many different emotions meant that Beth’s day to day life was a constant battle, on top of which she was completely unable to express her feelings verbally.  Again, for us we understood the main thing that was going to help her was time in a safe and caring environment.

We are constantly working with Beth to help her heal and “Worry Time” really helped.  We are so pleased that over the last 15 months she has been living with us she has come on so far and at times it can feel like we are living with a completely different child.  Still we are aware her past is deep rooted and there is still so much more than can be done to help her understand and deal with the things that have happened to her.

What we needed was a Professional Counsellor for us to work along side with.

This was agreed by her Social Worker and at the many LAC Review’s we’ve attended.  Beth was even asked if she would like to speak to someone and when she responded positively to this, they told her this would be organised for her.

She was ready and willing to open up to someone, our thoughts were, great let’s do this.  So, a referral was sent to CHUMS and CAMHS.

CHUMS came back quickly enough, stating that would be in touch for an initial assessment, I never heard back from them for many months and in the end, they were unable to offer Beth any relevant services.

After many months we received a phone call from CAMHS who offered us an initial assessment with Beth, I was so pleased! Unfortunately, this wasn’t a particularly good experience for Beth.   It was clear from the get-go that they were talking to Beth as if she was much older than her 10 years. I had to constantly explain to Beth what the counsellor was asking her.

The room itself was not child friendly, it was completely stark and all painted white, with just one small table, 3 chairs and a few colouring pens.  I felt terrible, I’d been telling Beth it was going to fine and I watched her shut down more as every minute ticked by.

To make matters worse whilst CAMHS acknowledged that Beth was undoubtably suffering from trauma she wasn’t showing sufficient signs that it was affecting her life at the present time, she was able to function and was being well supported by ourselves.

So, the plan was to wait until she was completely falling to pieces before they could justify helping her! I was so annoyed. 

So back to the drawing board, Beth’s Social Worker was as equally annoyed as us and was trying to overturn the decision.  As you can imagine this went on for many more months!  In the end with the help from our agency we found a private counsellor which together with our agency we were going to pay for ourselves, as at the time the Local Authority were stating they could not fund a private counsellor if CAMHS were reporting she didn’t need help right now.

I am pleased to say that at the beginning of this year Beth finally started her counselling sessions and they are now being paid for by the Local Authority and our agency.  Its early days yet but after the first initial appointment whereby

Beth was clearly anxious prior to going in, she now skips out each week, chatting away about the two dogs and cat that live at the house.

We are hopeful that Beth can finally after 3 years in care start to get the help she desperately needs. 

Helen – A Blogging Professional Foster Carer.