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A Trip Down Under Part 5: It takes a village to raise a child

Posted by Jim Humphries on 12th, January, 2016
Relevant tags: IFCO

The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true with the way in which we try to foster children as the Parenting team. As foster carers we must make the most of all of the facilities, and people available to us. Our support networks, schools and teachers, professional experts, after school clubs etc. all play a valuable role in the raising of the children and young people that we care for and we should seek support and advice wherever possible.

We need to ask the children and ourselves: What is working? What is not working? What do we need to introduce to make things better? We need to think about how our own life experiences have influenced the way that we work and how the real life experiences of the young people in our care have influenced the way that they work. Sharing experiences promotes healing from past trauma. This helps us to tune in to individual young peoples’ ways of communicating, enabling us to learn about their aspirations and goals and to help to plan with them, to make these goals actually happen.

It was really great to hear from some care leavers at the IFCO conference who shared their experiences and have gone on to do some very valued and great things. One thing that seemed to come from care leavers is that they need a more gradual transition when leaving care.

  • Jessica Grim, a care leaver from the USA spoke about the Brave Heart Program where care leavers have come together to support each other and young people leaving the care system
  • Sarah Milan, from the Core Assets charity the Rees Foundation, spoke about the great work her team is doing helping care leavers through a more gradual transition and giving guidance and support towards independence
  • Brad Swan from Queensland Australia also spoke about helping with everything that young people need when leaving care
  • Mathew Banbrick, a care leaver, gave an inspirational and uplifting talk on how he transitioned at 17 and hit a low. But with the help he received from Next Step, he has been able to turn his life around and head towards the goals and independence that he desires. He spoke about the Young People’s Project run by The Care Leavers’ Association and how this project is empowering young people leaving care to be helped by people who had been through the same experiences, with older care leavers mentoring and leading after care services for care leavers. He said that we need to “plant trees for the seasons to come”.

These snippets of information and ideas are from some of the notes that I wrote down on the day. You can gain much more detailed information by visiting the IFCO 2015 website. Again we were thoroughly spoilt with the lovely food provided at tea breaks and lunch and enjoyed mingling and chatting to many other people at the conference. The conference day finished at 5:30pm and we were able to have some time to relax before the Gala evening at 7:00pm.

We checked the progress of bids at the Silent Auction and found some people had bid on our hamper from England. I had to up my bids on the Australian flag and on the tea towels. Back at our room we reflected on all we had heard and learnt at the conference over the last two days. Dawn and I felt privileged to have been able to attend and to be amongst so many like-minded people from around the world. We also felt better prepared and empowered for our own fostering journey.

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