Looking after foster carers and learning from good practice
The Fostering Network report which launched Foster carer Fortnight, highlighted how too many teenagers in care experience a series of placement breakdowns as their foster carers are able to cope. It called for more targeted recruitment, and more support for foster carers when things are going wrong.
Like many other, my work with Foster 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 desire and ability to look after young people whose journeys around the system mean it is a real struggle to become ‘part of the families’. Or who at this stage don’t want to ‘belong’ to any more family.
Introducing different approach, which we tried in our pilot project with sunbeam fostering foster carers in UK, may be one of the ways forward. Here yoga, meditation and more general advice about looking after your health in the broadest sense appeared to work. These carers told us, not only did they see improvements in their physical health, but that they also felt better – more energy, focus and able to ‘let go’ of emotions evoked by what they could not change. And, meeting together to practice gave them a sense of ‘community’, where they could be there for each other so important for people whose potential isolation and loneliness is rarely acknowledged.