I’m taking a moment to nod joyfully at one of my favourite stories of last year; just noticing the day-to-day glory of fab fostering, and why doing it differently - yet in compliance with the highest standards - is to be celebrated.
It is first Annual Home Review (AHR) time for one of our families; I’m QA-ing their paperwork.
They were turned down twice by their local authority, several years apart, before being approved with us.
That same local authority subsequently paid us a retainer to keep the family vacancy available, because the Social Worker loved them so much for the young person they needed to place.
How can such ‘a rare gem’ - as their assessor described the family - have slipped through the fingers of others?
Through, I would suggest: the swirling smokescreen of conventional wisdom, risk aversion and notional ‘best practice’; insufficient imagination; and a failure to analyse the evidence accurately.
They’ve fostered four young folk in this first year, successfully in accordance with the care plan for each. The referral circumstances they’ve encountered have included: neglect and aggression; school attendance below 20%; a Police Protection Order and violence; CSE and behaviour beyond parental control; domestic violence and multiple episodes of being missing.
A few excerpts from their AHR report, from foster Mum Janet, and member of staff Christopher:
“With Mikey we went out loads over the summer, days out to theme parks, banger racing, swimming, bowling, rock climbing and a couple of holidays (Cornwall and Blackpool) to name just a few. We are looking forwards to doing similar with future children that come to stay with us.”
“Janet seems to have a natural affinity with children and young people. A call is made soon after a child/young person has arrived. This has demonstrated that all have been fine within an hour or two. Janet is ready with a smile and without being overwhelming lets them know she understands that this is very difficult. A hug is offered where appropriate and the family carry on without fuss.”
“It is my view that children do not feel under a spotlight because of the birth children who automatically welcome them as they would a friend.”
“Mikey had difficulty in holding eye contact and expressing his feelings, but after a short time, he would be seeking out Janet in the kitchen for one to one talks.”
“Jess arrived without clothing with Janet sorting out pyjamas and clothes from her daughters’ clothing. New underwear and basic clothing was purchased in the morning and she attended a party with the family in the evening.”
Sounds cool, right? What was it about these guys that put people off?
They have six children in the home already, aged 1-14 at our assessment. That, broadly, is it. It seems people thought they wouldn’t have space and wouldn’t manage a seventh child, despite managing all their own every day. All the positives were overlooked. Unconventional. Fantastic.
Janet is humble in her assessment of what works….
“I feel this is due to our being a big family which means there is always someone to talk to, something to do, someone that they could find something in common with and get along.”
Christopher - their Link Worker (the title we give to the role more conventionally described as Supervising Social Worker; our families don’t need ‘social workers’, ta very much, they’re doing just fine with life) - goes on to say this:
“There have been times when I have been amazed at how Janet has arranged logistics around taking children to three or four different schools and managed to fit in contact or an after school activity.”
By the way - contact meant two or three times a week, throughout term time and the school hols...
And the Independent Reviewing Officer for the AHR observed:
“Janet deals with 3 different schools, and home education, which to many would be too confusing however Janet just takes this in her stride and works with what best suits the children.”
“I felt happy that all the children’s needs were met, including the additional needs of Izzy; when I spoke with Izzy she said she liked it here because they had time for her, clear testimony that Janet and Dave always find time for the important bits.”
Thanks guys - lovely job.
Our children deserve that we keep an eye open for those rare gems.
(All names anonymised, and permission from authors of report - including the family, obvs - granted.)
Image credit: Pexels
Last modified on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 10:00