Being a foster carer means stepping in to provide the care, support, love and protection that a foster child needs to grow and develop into a well-rounded adult. The reasons why they need this care away from their birth family are many and numerous.
Foster parents step into this void and although rewarding, there are times when behaviour is challenging, and patience tested. To provide the care and intervention that these children need, foster carers have a range of foster support options open to them.
FOSTER SUPPORT THROUGH TRAINING
As well as initial training as part of the fostering process, many foster parents go on to complete additional training covering specific topics such as working with birth families, children who have faced abuse, how to deal with challenging behaviour and so on.
This training is an important part of the support that foster carers receive, as a carer who has in-depth knowledge and tools to hand will be better placed to support and care for their foster children.
FOSTER SUPPORT OVER THE TERM OF THE PLACEMENT
When a child arrives to live with a you, whether this is a short or long term placement, or for respite care, you will be given information regarding the child, the reasons why they are in care and need your help.
Over the term of the placement, the child’s support worker or social worker will always be on hand to offer support, advice or a friendly listening ear. Likewise, there are support groups and agency helplines run by some fostering agencies that are also there to offer support when you need it, no matter what time of night or day.
Fostering agencies create a ‘fostering community’ around their carers and foster children so that foster support is part of the whole process, rather than an afterthought or ‘add-on’.
SPECIALIST FOSTER SUPPORT
Life happens. Out of the blue, behaviour patterns become challenging caused by unseen triggers, trauma surfaces when you least expect it resulting in all kinds of issues from hard-to-deal-with tantrums to a foster child running away.
Even the most experienced foster carers or parents struggle to help a child that is locked in their own world, behind towering, protective walls. ‘Reaching’ a foster child can be hard and this is where specialist foster support comes in to play.
As well as support from the agency who placed the child, a foster parent can provide therapeutic support to a child in their care. Originally written as a adaptive parenting style, the crux of ‘therapeutic parenting’ is used in foster care too.
This approach looks at altering the tone of voice and modifying how we ask questions, when and why. Removing confrontational questioning – why did you do that?! – and replacing with a gentler, conversational tone – I wonder what happened there? – can be the start of reaching out and connecting with a child.
It is a tough ask for a foster carer to change how they have always done things and of course, no one gets it right all the time. The default setting when a child has displayed unpleasant or challenging behaviour is to get to the root of the problem by identify why and what the problem is.
But parenting with PACE – playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy – is a process based on earning trust over time. It is a vehicle for helping the child to accept their feelings, but without labelling them good or bad.
REWARD & CHALLENGE
Rewarding but challenging is how foster carers often describe their role. The support is there for both the child and the carer. But it is the commitment of a foster parent that makes the biggest difference, along with the support and safety they offer children to explore and deal with their past in order to live for the future.
Known for providing unrivalled support, why not explore foster care further with Foster Care Associates?