Invest in the best! Looking after foster carers and learning from good practice
The Fostering Network report which launched Fostercare Fortnight, highlighted how too many teenagers in care experience a series of placement breakdowns as their foster carers struggle to cope. It called for more targeted recruitment, and more support for carers when things are going wrong.
Like many others, my work with carers over a number of years means I’m not surprised at all by the report’s findings, and I wouldn’t disagree with those recommendations – but I don’t think they go far enough.
Yes, we clearly do need more foster carers, especially carers who have the desire and ability to look after young people whose journeys around the system mean it’s a real struggle to become ‘part of the family’. Or who at this stage don’t want to ‘belong’ to any more families……
Yet however these teenagers feel or behave they are in desperate need of stability, a home where adults care and can teach them the practical and emotional skills they so badly need for adulthood.
So recruiting is not where it ends – as it never is. Foster carers who take on this role may require training, and they most certainly will need on-going support. But what kind of ‘training’ really makes a difference? And what ‘support’ keeps you going – with energy and vitality – engaged, motivated and feeling good about yourself and what you do? (Especially when all around you are very quick to criticise when things go ‘wrong’….)