A leading independent fostering agency is asking people to spare an extra thought for children and young people in foster care over the Christmas period.
Whilst for many people Christmas is a magical time, Foster Care Associates (FCA) says that it can be a very stressful and difficult time for children and young people in care, however, it’s often the smallest gestures from extended family, and friends of foster families, that can really make a huge difference to a child at this poignant time of year.
From remembering to include names of foster children on family Christmas cards, to buying an additional personal gift or stocking filler, or simply being extra mindful to the young person in care’s needs, FCA is sharing some basic festive advice for foster carers and their family and friends.
Mark Costello, chief executive officer at FCA, said: “Christmas can evoke some very powerful emotions for children and young people in care, bringing back difficult memories sparked by previous negative situations. This is where our foster carers play an incredible role; creating a safe, calming, and stable environment at what can be an emotional time of year, however wider family and friends also play an important role too.
“From children simply worried about ‘how will Santa find me?’, to feelings of imposing, not belonging, or guilt that for whatever reason they’re unable to spend Christmas with their own parents, foster carers and they’re extended family and friends need to be prepared for many different eventualities. It’s not unusual for some foster carers to be asked to take a new placement on Christmas Eve as family situations come to a head.”
Although each child and situation is unique FCA share some advice for foster carers, and their extended family and friends, to support children in care over the Xmas period:
- Take time to listen to and understand how the foster child has experienced Christmas in the past.
- If appropriate include a tradition from the young person or something from their faith to run alongside your own.
- Include children in the food shopping and planning for the big day and share tasks equally between all children (birth and fostered) which could include decorating the tree or laying the table.
- Do not make a child or young person feel pressurised to join in or leave them from proceedings.
- Be prepared for tears and laughter, arguments and playing nicely and if anything goes wrong (like a burnt turkey!), stay calm, make the most of it and try to laugh it off. It will all make for positive memories to look back on in the future.
FCA provides ongoing comprehensive support to all foster carers including training, a financial fostering allowance, access to carer support groups and organised family activities – all contributing factors as to why FCA placements are 22% more stable than the national average.
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