Tag Archives: Care System

Book review: Billy Says series by Joanne Alper

Today we have a review by adoptive parent Amy who has read the Billy Says series by Joanne Alper…

This is a set of 6 easy to read, colourful books for children to guide them through some of the issues relating to adoption and fostering. They are written by Joanne Alper, Director of Services at AdoptionPlus.

Aimed at children aged 3-8, I personally think these are better for children age 5-10. But could be used by parents, social workers, therapists or teachers.

20160616_124826Book 1 focuses on helping the main character 5 year old ‘Kirsty’ realise that the shouting in her house is not her fault, and the visitors that come to see her mum are social workers who are trying to help her mum. The books all use the character of Billy – a soft toy who can speak, to help Kirsty verbalise her worries and to help her understand in child friendly language what is going on around her.

Book 2 explains what happens when Kirsty needs to go to foster care, and explains why (that her mum can’t look after her properly). Billy introduces Smudgy the cat who shows empathy after moving away from his own family.

Book 3 talks about the foster carers and acknowledges that Kirsty will have muddles and worries, especially about her brothers who are at different placements. It really focuses on talking about the good, kind things that foster carers do.

Book 4 is called ‘What you think matters’ and it talks about courts and guardians. Billy describes the type of meetings that have to happen and what goes on in them, and also reassures Kirsty that her views are important.

Book 5 is about waiting. Kirsty explains that she’s been making a life story book with her social worker. It also covers a little about the wait for a new family. I do feel that between books 4 and 5 there should be another book about the adoption decision and the feelings that come with that as by the time you get to book 5, it’s clear that adoption is the plan, but it hasn’t been stated anywhere.

Book 6 talks about what it’s like to live as a new family. Again, the bit between foster family and adoptive family has been missed, and we start book 6 with Kirsty having lived with her family for a  little while. Sadly there isn’t anything about packing and moving, introductions, or the early days of settling in.

I find these books brilliant at explaining the bits they cover. They use child friendly language, bright colours, a lovely character in Billy, they are short enough to hold attention. My only disappointment is the bits they miss, which in my mind are just as important.

 Amy received these books free of charge in return for an honest review. You can buy the set here at Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Book review: How I survived in and out of care

untitled (2)It’s unusual to hear from those who have been in care. But it’s also incredibly insightful hearing from those who’ve been in care.

Reading Eve Higgins’ book ‘How I survived in and out of care’ is difficult. It’s hard to comprehend what care leavers have been through, and it’s hard – as an adoptive parent – to even consider what could have happened to my child, had he remained in the care system.

Eve, abandoned as a baby, and then enduring a number of foster placements before being placed in a children’s home writes about her experiences and the relationship that she developed with Ella – abused by her father, and ending up in the same children’s home as Eve.

I feel the book is stilted – as a read it doesn’t flow neatly from one section to the next, but then I imagine that moving through care is similar. There are no nice neat transitions, just the ending of one part, and on to the next. Paragraphs with little nuggets of information in.

But what this book shows is the importance of relationships – whether they are challenging, grief-filled as with Nicola, or long-lasting and strong – like that between Eve and Ella. Detailed through part of the book are the people that Eve and Ella know – the characters and friends they’ve come across both in the care system directly, and through the Adoption and Fostering in the UK forums. The writer brings these characters to life and it’s not hart to feel connected to some of them.

The book features case studies that are well worth reading – giving a rounded explanation of a few people and their stories.

And the final few pages contain poems written by Eve and Ella – which having read the book, I then found very emotional.

You can find the book on Amazon here. And check out the guest post that Eve wrote on The Adoption Social last year.


Surviving the care system

Today we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from Eve Higgins – author of newly published How I Survived In And Out Of Care…

Many books have been written and many websites have been created that discuss adoption and fostering from an adult perspective. Virtually nothing has been written from the point of view of the clients of this enormously expensive system – that is the young people themselves. Indeed I would go further: the great and good seem to have an overwhelming interest in the financial aspects of the Care System but almost no awareness of the views or experiences of those who feel most failed by the current arrangements.

Ella and I both feel that a sizable proportion of those “timing out” at 18 are grossly ill-prepared for adult life. How many parents would expect their own children to cope with the rigours of post-16 education with little or no emotional or financial support from a loving family? Disruption, poverty and uncertainty are all major barriers to academic achievement and the low educational attainment of children who spent time in a Children’s Home is a national disgrace.

In the absence of a formal support mechanism that meets the requirements of care leavers from 18-25 years old it is crucial that an alternative approach is embraced. Ella and I call this “group self-help”. There are a number of sub-sections to this that all have a part to play in overcoming the twin devils of isolation and a lack of positive role models. By far the most important, at least as far as Ella and I were concerned, was the group newsletter. Sharing triumphs and tragedies with friends who share your childhood experiences can be very therapeutic. Knowing that there is somebody is taking an interest is nice but having somebody else to help, when few others could, is even better! Quite deliberately our book describes some people who have become role models for the two of us. These are people, ranging in age from early 20s to 60+, have between them have made a real difference to Eve and Ella the parents and Eve and Ella the employees.

I (Eve) wrote this book to repay a debt. Not a financial debt, although money does come into the untitled (10)story, but an emotional debt to two groups of people. Those who helped me to survive 18 years of living in foster care or in a Children’s Home and those people who subsequently helped me to recover from those difficult times. When I wrote the book I did so in the sure and certain knowledge that it would upset some people and annoy others. If a reader falls into either category then my defence is that articulate and conscientious adoptive parents or foster carers – the type who would be sufficiently motivated to join an on-line forum or to read any book of mine on their vocation – are the exception rather than the rule. The on-going tragedy is that not all members of this elite group realise that their high standards are far from universal! Some of my friends had a long and happy relationship with their foster parents and a number of examples of entirely positive relationships are included in this book. Other foster parents I know from bitter first-hand experience just “went through the motions” and the degree of nurturing, especially when older teenagers were being fostered, that took place was fairly minimal. It is also my strong impression that the average quality of foster care gradually declines as the age of the child increases.

Of course I am biased because I have invested a great deal of emotional energy in the creation of “How I survived in and out of Care” but I genuinely think that this book could be a life changer to many of the most vulnerable young people in society. If enough people read the book and put into practice the survival skills we have identified then perhaps all my hard work was worthwhile.

“How I survived in and out of Care” is available from Amazon.com and from Amazon.co.uk. Watch out for a review of the book here on The Adoption Social in the next few weeks.

Eve and Ella http://livingworldsedge.blogspot.co.uk/

See The Child Change the System



You might already be aware that at Britmums last week we were fortunate to listen to and meet Camilla Batmangheldjh .Camilla and her charity Kids Company have launched a new campaign called See the Child Change the System. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the number of children living in abusive, neglectful and potentially harmful environments in the UK.

Some of the statistics that Camilla used to support the need for change were….

  • Children negatively impacted by parental alcoholism range in numbers from 920,000 to 3.5million
  • Those impacted by parental mental health difficulties range from 50,000 to 2 million
  • Children impacted by domestic violence are thought to be just under 1.8million
  • One in 20 children are believed to be sexually abused.

To read some more about current problems within the system that is supposed to support these children and to understand why change is vital please visit the See The Child site 

This short film has been developed to promote the campaign.

The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of the plight of so many children here in our own country. The ultimately  aim is the creation of an Independent Task Force that can re-design social care and mental health services for children. 

And you can all help make this happen by giving your support in a number of easy ways, here’s how….

SIGN THE PETITION ON THE seethechild.org website. Also on this site is all the reports, case studies, quotes and videos which help support this campaign.

OR TEXT I SEE to 63000, this is a standard network charge, it is not a donation to Kids Company. The text will constitute a ‘vote’ for change, it is another mechanism for signing the petition alongside the website.seethechild

To show support and solidarity with the millions of children suffering in the UK, we are asking you to post a picture of yourself as a child on Facebook or Twitter in support of the campaign with the following copy:

Twitter: Me as a child. Help 1.5m children suffering in UK, sign at seethechild.org or text I SEE to 63000 #SEETHECHILD

Facebook: I am posting a picture of myself as a child in support of the 1.5 million children who are neglected and abused in the UK. Politicians say there are ‘no votes in vulnerable children’ but by signing this @KidsCompany petition at​ www.seethechild.org we are showing them we care and we demand change. Together we can See the Child. Change the System. #SEETHECHILD or Text I SEE to 63000


To keep up with the campaign follow @SeetheChild on Twitter and the Kids Company accounts on:     Facebook  Google +  Instagram (kidscompanyuk)

So come on lets get behind this and help raise awareness by sharing the campaign and using the hashtag #SeetheChild