If you had to describe what you do as a family support worker in one sentence, what would you say?
We create personalised support for each family, which best meets everyone’s needs.
What has been the biggest impact made on a young person by a foster carer?
I worked with one young person who hated physical touch and would not allow anyone to give her a hug. Within a few months of living with her new foster carer hugs became safe and enjoyable. She had learned that touch can be safe.
Why should people become a foster carer?
It is a big challenge with some of the biggest rewards a person could hope for. Watching a young person grow and develop because of the support your family have shown them is a great reward for many of the families I have worked with.
Have you seen any foster carers grow during their time of fostering?
It is very different looking after and caring for a foster child as they are not your own and come with a team of professionals. I have worked with a number of carers over their first year of becoming a foster carer. Each situation has had its own challenges. I have seen carers develop skills and confidence in their skills to look after foster children. I have seen people who can struggle in groups become more confident, people who struggle with emotions become more emotionally intelligent and people develop more specific skills to their foster child such as, knowledge of disabilities.
What would you say is the most challenging part of being a foster carer?
Understanding and accepting that because the children they foster have been through some really difficult times in their lives, they will come with behaviours that have helped them manage when things were very hard. Due to these behaviours helping them from a young age, the child or young person might never be able to give some of them up. Knowing that the child can't change this and that it is up to the adults around the child to change their responses is the best way to support the child/young person. It's important to do this whilst also processing their own thoughts and feelings as well as reflecting on what their values are and how they might be impacting on the situation.
How do you support the foster carers during times of unsettled placements?
I provide the foster carer with empathy as this is a difficult time and it is hard seeing a child in distress. I spend time listening to the foster carer’s thoughts and feelings. We then spend time breaking down what happened and how things might have been viewed from the child’s perspective. We spend time putting a plan together for future events and have regular sessions where the foster carer has time to work through their own thoughts and feelings so they are then able to continue to meet the young people's needs. I promote self-care as we have to take care of ourselves to be able to support the children.
Why would you recommend Care Visions to anyone looking to foster?
Care Visions provide a great amount of support for foster carers and children. In the last two weeks, I have heard on a few occasions “we couldn’t ask for better support.” Care Visions offer support in a number of ways, Training, Support groups, one to ones with SSW’s, one to one with FSW, Theraplay, groups developing children’s social skills, one to ones with the children, life story work, working towards independence. There is a wealth of knowledge within the team to support almost all of the needs a foster carer might have. If the child you are fostering has a need that is outwith our support, we have even brought in external support in the past.
We recognise that by providing the foster carers with the help, support and training they need we are improving outcomes for children.