Fostering and Parental Responsibilities.

Families and Michelin Stars Blog

So sharing house with a prospective Michelin star chef is having an effect on my waistline.

All the walks, runs, etc. I put in prior to James’ (name changed) arrival have been kicked into touch, buried under a deluge of cakes, pies and pastries. However he seems happy and content so that suits me.

However, looming on the horizon is a meeting arranged by James’ Social Worker. The meeting has been called as a couple of Mum’s relatives have come forward to say that they can be looking after James, rather than him being in Foster care.

According to the Social Worker they have come forward after hearing of Mum’s ‘difficulties’ and she is duty bound to talk to them. I haven’t mentioned this to James yet as he is nicely settled and I don’t want that disrupted. But Mum then decided to ring James and tell him that he will be going to live with Uncle Robert or Auntie Jean. James wasn’t happy.

A difficult conversation was held that afternoon. James hardly seems to know the people who have come forward and doesn’t want to go there but I have to remain ‘professional’ and not be seen to criticise anyone or anything.

This is a predicament I have been in before. If you are too enthusiastic about the plan then the child feels that you want them to go. If you are negative then you risk being seen as obstructive by the Local Authority. So I have found that the best option is to say nowt.

I reassured James and told him that no decision will be made without consulting him and that any decisions were made to benefit him.

So it was a rather subdued Chef during the afternoon. I tried to cheer him up with my usual wit but there was no smiling. James took himself to his room and played PlayStation while I did some paperwork and sent a few emails. I heard his phone ring on a number of occasions but he didn’t pick up.

Later that evening, over dinner, James started discussing his life at home. He described how Mum would never have any money for food as she spent it on ‘other things’. He told me how he would go shoplifting, just to get food to eat. He never had clean clothes and some of the people at school would mock him as his clothes were dirty or too small. He said that, for a time, he never attended school as he didn’t like the ridicule.

All the time, I was trying to keep a mental note of what was being said, so I could record it for his Social Worker. The conversation went on for several hours and James became quite emotional on occasions. He said how he was envious of his friends who had both their Mum and Dad living at home.

I explained that single parent families were quite common nowadays but he replied saying that he felt like he didn’t have any parents as Mum showed no affection towards him at all. She never went to school meetings or supported him with his education.

At midnight a rather tired and emotional James took himself to bed whilst I spent two hours writing up the conversation and emailing it to his Social Worker and my Supervising Social Worker. I’m sure there were two people in the house who had a rather restless night.

A Blogging Foster Carers Diary.

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.