Three days, three towns, three support groups!
I recently accompanied FCA’s co-founder, Jan Rees, on visits to a number of foster carer support groups across the UK. During those three days I had what I can only describe as an awesome experience! In two of the groups Jan invited carers to talk about their experiences… time and time again, as each foster carer shared their story, we were stunned with the level of tenacity, care, resilience and strong social work support from their supervising social workers and others , helping them ‘hold on’ to young people in placement, no matter the challenge.
All of the support groups were extremely well attended. In all of the groups, carers shared their stories and at times we were almost in tears. We laughed as well, but the constant for me was the great admiration felt by all, listening to each carer telling their story and sharing and learning from each other. All carers displayed an immense variety of different skill sets, but all focused on seeing the placed young person through their difficulties.
Again and again carers spoke about children who had missed significant parts of their early education, but with strong support had not only caught up, but were making great progress. That is not to say that it was all plain sailing. A number of carers shared stories of young people whose behaviours pushed them again and again to think about calling time on their placement…but they did not, and the results are there to be seen.
One great example was a foster carer who is so focused on meeting the needs of the young person placed that she also spends time as a teaching assistant in his school. There is obviously more to this story, but without her presence at school, the possibility of being excluded is reduced, the potential for his continued attendance increased and his behaviour is becoming more normalised across both home and school.
Blog by Richard Brandford – Service Manager, Carer Retention and Welfare at FCA