Tag Archives: foster care

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.

3 Top Tips for Introductions

Today @SuddenlyMummy shares her top tips for Introductions, 

It seems as though the Twitter universe is awash with prospective adopters who are about to be matched, already matched, or contemplating introductions very soon. Congratulations all of you! Many of us have been through it already, and we know that there are myriads of little tips that would have made it all oh so much easier if we’d known them in advance!

So, what are your top tips for managing introductions? Do you have some practical advice, something you wish you’d known, or something you did that worked really well for you?

From a foster carer’s point of view, here are three of my top tips:

movng on1.Bring a holdall or suitcase on the first day of intros for the foster carer to pack all your child/children’s stuff in. It’s heartbreaking to have your child arrive with all their belongings in a bin bag, but amazing how often it happens. I always mention this at first meeting with prospective adopters, but if your foster carer doesn’t, then it might be worth asking.

2.Find out whether it would be ok to provide the foster carer with a memory stick on the first day of intros to load up with photos and videos of your little one. I make photobooks and scrapbooks, but these contain only a fraction of the literally hundreds of pictures I take, and are no good for video clips.

3.I always give prospective adopters my email address at the first meeting – I have never asked SS if this is ok, and I never will because I don’t want to hear a negative answer! If you get the foster carer’s email address and you feel comfortable contacting them, do, do, do email them, even if you don’t really have any questions. Once I receive a prospective adopter’s email, then, importantly, I have their email address too and I can start sending updates to help make the endless wait go by just a little faster.

So, now it’s over to you. If you’ve been through it, what are your top tips for introductions? Share any tips you have in the comments below.

It’s Foster Care Fortnight

The Adoption Social, as many know, aims to provide support for adoptive parents, adoptees and anyone involved in adoption – and that includes foster carers, who, for so many adoptive families, have performed a vital role in the care of our children. So today, at the beginning of Foster Care Fortnight, we’re delighted to bring you this post from UK Fostering who clearly need more foster carers….but the right carers to support our traumatise children.

What is Foster Care Fortnight really asking for?

ukfostering-logoWith foster care fortnight here, it brings into perspective that yet again the message is that we are thousands of foster carers short in the UK. What would be more helpful is if we understood what type of foster carers the sector needs.

At any point in time there are a large number of foster carers vacant and waiting for their next foster placement, so why is the sector still recruiting? The reality is that the greater the trauma, the needs, and the challenge, the less foster carers there are willing to help that young person. I talk here about children with disabilities, I talk of children whose emotional trauma leads them to display challenging behaviour, I talk of those young people who through negative circumstances find themselves engaged with offending behaviour. These are the children that many people are not willing or able to care for, and yet arguably they need the most choice.

This is not a judgement of current foster carers. Many people have perfectly good reasons for the limitations as to who would fit into their family environment. What is does mean, is that as a sector, we need to find more of the right type of people, with the right type of attitude and a firm desire to take up the challenge of making the most significant changes in the lives of these young people with the greatest needs.

At UK Fostering, our foster carers are recruited because they genuinely care and have the resilience to make a real difference. They are supported by a staff, management and ownership structure that values them, values the children and has the same passion to positively change the lives of children in the care system.

If you consider yourself resilient, want to be part of a team that will support you and for which you will be proud to be part, and you think you have what it takes to do something amazing, then contact us and let’s see what’s possible. Ofsted said we, our carers and our team were ‘Outstanding’ and you just might be too.

Please visit our website: www.ukfostering.org.uk or
Our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/UKFostering or
Call us on 0845 222 0518 for more information

Tim McArdle – Head of Placement & Procurement UK Fostering

What is Foster Care? – A Post in Association with the National Fostering Agency

Today we feature a piece on behalf of the National Fostering Agency, answering some of the frequently asked questions about fostering and giving an overview of what fostering is.

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What is fostering and what do foster carers do?

 Almost everyone has heard the term ‘foster parent’ at some point, either through a personal experience or simply on the television or radio. Yet, it is still something that can cause a degree of confusion. Many people confuse fostering with adoption or aren’t clear about the exact role of a foster parent. While the two are indeed similar they are not the same and so it is often necessary to re-iterate the exact definition of fostering and role of the foster parents.

At its essence, fostering involves caring for a child in your own home when they are unable to live with their birth family. This can take a number of forms and be for any number of reasons. Some children need a foster home for just a few days until they either return home or are moved on elsewhere. Others will need to stay in a foster home for longer periods, some for a number of years.

Foster parents are not the sole focus of support for children, with the parents forming just a small but important part of the network of care around the child. Working with social workers, other professionals and even the birth parents, foster parents will aim to offer support to children at the times when they most need it.

What do foster carers do?

The role of the foster parents is to provide high quality care for the children in their care, for however long that may be. Working in partnership with the local authorities to provide this as best as possible, there are also a number of other healthcare professionals that you may need to be in contact with. These can include but are not limited to, therapists, teachers and doctors.

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 Very often you will be dealing with young people and children who are experiencing very traumatic periods in their lives and you need to be able to provide a stable environment for them. Although there are no hard and fast rules about the best way to do this, as each child is different, there are certain qualities that make some people more suitable to be foster parents than others.

 

 

What qualities do foster parents need?

Communication skills are essential to any foster parent. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with a number of people. First and foremost is the child, where being able to open up lines of communication is very important.

 However, you should also expect to have relationships with other professionals as mentioned. You should also expect to have to communicate with the child’s parents, regardless of any personal feelings, in order to offer ongoing support to the child.

 You should also be prepared to commit time and energy and invest in the young person in your care. Being a foster parent is not an easy job and it’s worth realising this before you go any further. However, the efforts you put in can be rewarded in many ways, some of them very unexpected.

You also need to be able to work as part of a team and be prepared to learn new skills throughout the process. There is no such thing as a complete foster parent, as anyone who has done it will tell you. There is always more to learn and understand about fostering and always room to develop new skills

Who can foster?

Almost anyone can be a foster parent. You don’t need to have kids already and you can be single or married. Your sexuality won’t prevent you from fostering, nor will your religion or cultural background. You can apply from the age of 18 (though some services have higher limits) and can continue to foster as long as you are in good health.

 Financially speaking, you will probably need to have a spare room in your house or flat but you will also be helped out by the local authorities when fostering. People on benefits can also foster.

Types of fostering

Although there are no set definitions for the types of fostering that happen, as most cases are individual, there are some general categories that most cases fall into. Emergency fostering can mean anything from an overnight stay to a few months. Then there is short-term, long-term, leaving care and short-breaks.

 In some specialist cases, specially trained foster carers may take both young parents and their babies in parent and baby care.

For further information on fostering or to ask more questions please contact the National Fostering Agency.

Website: http://www.nfa.co.uk/
Phone:0845 200 4040
Email: info@nfa.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NFA_fostering/

Preparing to meet your child – Part 1

Suddenly Mummy is a single adoptive mum, and also a foster carer. She’s put together these Handy Tips on Preparing to Meet Your Child as a two-part piece. This week you’ll see it’s about meeting the foster carer…

Part I – Meeting the Foster Carer

Although it can be daunting, meeting the foster carer is a vital step in preparing to meet your child or children, so it’s important to approach the meeting positively so that you can get the most out of it.  Here are a few suggestions that might help to make the meeting a success:

1. Make sure you know where you’re going!  It sounds like a simple thing, but the last thing you need on this important day is to be driving round in panic, lost and late!

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2. Decide on a few questions in advance.
The nature of these will depend on the age of the child or children you are adopting, and also their backgrounds and any issues you are already aware of.  Think about practical things such as routine, feeding, naps, bedtimes, etc. and clothing/shoe size, favourite activities, toys, books and so on.  Ask about washing powder/fabric softener so you can start making your house smell like the foster carer’s house.  You will also want to ask questions about medical needs and/or educational/developmental/behavioural needs, depending on your child’s profile.

3. Allow the conversation to flow freely.  It’s important to ask questions to get the specific information you need, but at the same time you are trying to build up a rounded picture of the child and their life with their carers, so don’t be concerned if conversation strays from your prepared questions as you might be able to learn unexpected and precious details this way.

4. Be aware that the foster carers may not be able to answer all of your questions. Sometimes foster carers simply don’t have the information you are looking for – they may not even have all the information that you have been given.  Sometimes, things that are important to your lifestyle will not figure in the foster carer’s lifestyle, so they may not be able to answer questions about that.  For instance, if you are very outdoorsy, you might want to know whether your child enjoys digging in the mud, but this might never have come up in the foster family.

5. Ask to see plenty of pictures that the carers have taken.  Of course, you want to see pictures of your child, but also take special note of what is happening in the photographs.  Try to see what your child is doing in the pictures (playing with trains, looking at books, playing with the water, etc.) and make a mental note of what you see – this will be useful when you are preparing your introductory materials.

6. Offer the foster carer your email address.  I like to swap email addresses with adoptive parents so that I can email them about things I may have forgotten, and send new photos periodically to keep that contact going while we all wait for matching and introductions.

7. Relax!  Although it can be downright scary meeting the foster carers, remember that they are not your competition.  Foster carers work hard to prepare children for adoption and, although we do get attached, we know that there is great joy mixed with the sadness when we hand our charges over to their forever families.  Of course, the foster carer’s ways of doing things might be different to what you have experienced and planned, but be assured that they will want the adoptive placement to be a success and will aim to work with you to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Part 2 looks at Preparing Introductory Materials, something that many adoptive parents approach with trepidation. Be sure to check back next week.

And, if you have any knowledge to share like this Handy Tips post, please do get in touch.