Foster Carers and HMRC

For anybody who is considering becoming a foster carer, and for those that are already fostering, you have been invited to take part in a free webinar hosted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The webinar aims to help you understand tax responsibilities and any National Insurance issues that may arise for a self-employed foster carer.

The free, hour-long webinar will take place at 11am on the 14th February and will include an interactive question and answer session.

The webinar can be accessed from all laptops, iPads, iPhones or tablets, provided you have internet access.

Spaces are limited and reservations are necessary.
To register, please visit HMRC Foster Carers Registration

Saying ‘Goodbye’ To A Foster Child

The time between the beginning and the end of a placement with a foster child can feel like no time at all. Saying goodbye can be one of the biggest challenges faced by foster carers, as well as for the young people in their care.

Having looked after a person for a period of time, you celebrate their successes, are a shoulder to cry on and you watch them grow up. They become a substantial part of your family.

The Importance of Staying Positive

Whatever the reasons for the departure, it’s normal for foster carers to experience a range of emotions when a child leaves their home. It’s important to realise that having stayed with you for a period of time will have benefited their lives for the better.

If they’re an older teenager and they’re now ready to live independently, you will have probably played the part of an important role model. You would have helped teach them valuable life skills such as learning to cook, clean and manage budgets in preparation for them to live their life on their own.

For younger children who move onto more long-term, permanent placements, it’s important to remember that moving on is in their best interests as it’s eventually helping towards placing them with their ‘forever family’.

Dealing with Grief

Losing a foster child is likely to provoke feelings of grief, so give yourself time to recover and also to celebrate the journey you’ve had together. Being open about these feelings with friend, family and other foster carers will help you to heal.

How We Can Help Foster Carers

If you are a foster carer or are considering becoming a foster carer, we can provide a range of training on how to deal with foster children moving on. Contact our team for more information by clicking here.

Fostering February 2018

Don’t rule yourself out…find out!

This month we will be showing our support for Fostering February by starting conversations about fostering both online and offline!

What is Fostering February?


Fostering February is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the facts of becoming a foster carer and aims to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions which surround it.

It gives an invaluable opportunity to people who are considering becoming a foster carer to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster carer, but immediately ruled it out?

“I’m in a same sex relationship so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I am disabled so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I don’t have a driving license so I won’t be allowed to foster”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

There are lots of different family living situations that can allow for a foster child which are often assumed can’t. Be sure to find out before making assumptions. For example, your sexual orientation won’t affect whether you are allowed to become a foster carer. The most important factor is that the children feel safe and loved and importantly are properly looked after.

How can you get involved in Fostering February 2018?

Whether you are considering becoming a foster carer or just want to help raise awareness, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with Fostering February 2018.

If you think you could help a child, please register your interest by clicking here and a member of our friendly team will be in touch.

National Storytelling Week 2018

Connect with your foster family through stories

From 27th January – 3rd February 2018, it is National Storytelling Week, held by The Society for Storytelling.

The week is the perfect chance for families to come together and celebrate the power of telling stories, an oral tradition which was the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination!

Sourced from https://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week

What’s so important about storytelling?

Storytelling isn’t just a fun activity for children and young people, it can also have a significant impact on their psychological development. Not only can it improve their language skills and imagination, but their ability to tell their own story, articulate their emotions and make themselves heard.

Stories can provide a child with insight into how the world works and can help them to understand themselves and others. Stories can help give a child greater understanding of human emotion and feelings.

The Importance of Storytelling in a Foster Family Environment

Storytelling can be useful for foster children to help strengthen their relationship with their foster carers, as the process of telling and listening to stories can build attachments and relationships.

The storyteller’s own reactions, both in how they tell and talk about the story, can create an environment that brings well-being and playfulness to the relationship.

Go on, join us in celebrating National Storytelling Week and find time to sit down the with the family to tell some inspiring stories!

Reasons to Kick-Start Your Fostering Journey

If you’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, but have been dwelling on the reasons not to foster, here are some reasons that might encourage you to make your initial enquiry.

  1. You’ve got a lot of love to give
  2. Feeling loved and cared for is one of our most basic and fundamental needs, no matter what age we are. However, when children miss out on the feeling of love and care during their early years, it can have a negative impact on their personal development and cause low self-esteem.

    Becoming a foster carer is an opportunity for you to provide a vulnerable child with the love and care they deserve.

  3. Children need to form lasting attachments
  4. Forming lasting attachments in our early years is important to help develop relationships in later life. Unfortunately, many children within the foster care system have not had the opportunity to form these attachments in their childhood due to their changing environment.

    Foster carers play a crucial role in helping children and young people to trust people by forming positive, responsive relationships with them.

  5. Too many children don’t grow up in a family setting
  6. Too many children within the foster care system grow up without their basic needs being met in a safe and happy family environment. Fostering is an opportunity to provide a child with the guidance and support that we all need.

  7. Your care can have a lasting impact
  8. The impact you could have on a foster child, even in emergency and short-term placements, can stay with them forever. Foster children can learn what being part of a caring family environment is like which can, in turn, have a positive effect on their outlook on family life and can positively influence their future.

  9. Fostering is an opportunity to learn new skills
  10. Foster carers receive ongoing support and training, which provides the opportunity to develop new skills and improve existing ones. Your supervising social worker will be there to help you along the way and will provide you with access to various training courses.

    If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a foster carer and changing a child’s life for the better, click here to get in touch with our friendly team today.

Helping Foster Children Through The Holiday Season

Christmas can and should be one of the most wonderful times of the year for children, excited about the arrival of Father Christmas and the magic the festive period brings. But, for many looked after children and young people, Christmas can be a stressful and difficult time of year.

In the build up to Christmas, all around us the vision of the perfect family enjoying the festivities is portrayed – not only through the media, but through conversations with friends about their plans for the holiday, with whom they’ll be going to visit and what activities they have planned with their families. For a looked after child who has been separated from their birth parents this can evoke powerful emotions, both positive and negative, and stir up memories and feelings from their past.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with simple things you can do this Christmas time to help looked after children cope and make this festive season a happy one…

  1. Talk about Christmas
  2. A child in care may not have a good understanding of the Christmas holiday, what it means and what traditions it brings in your home. Take time to read a few books in the run up to Christmas and be ready to hear about their past Christmases. Encourage them to share good memories, then work out ways that traditions can be integrated. Let them know what to expect, even if it’s as simple as decorations, Christmas music, stockings and lots of family meals!

  3. Maintain routine where possible
  4. Christmas can be a hectic time of year, with gifts to be bought being left until the eleventh hour and plans being changed last minute! It’s important to remember the importance of planning and how children thrive on routine. If for any reason routines can’t be maintained, talk the potential changes through with your foster child, discuss any worries they may have and outline the steps you can both take to help them cope.

  5. Involve everyone
  6. Make your home inviting and cosy together! The key is to ensure that the children or young people see the change in setting as positive and a fun activity to do together.

  7. Write a letter to Santa
  8. For younger children, if this is their first Christmas with you, it’s important that Father Christmas knows where to find you!

  9. Anticipate Christmas to be an emotional time
  10. Expect Christmas to be an emotional time for the children you look after, especially for those who may be unable to see their family. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number and children may want to talk about these and share memories with you. Take time to listen and enjoy time to bond.

  11. Prepare for guests
  12. Introducing children or young people to extended family or family gatherings can be a daunting experience for them. Planning around family gatherings is important – let them know who’s coming and when. Sometimes, it helps to talk about the visitors in advance, so that your foster child feels a familiarity and level of comfort before they have arrived. If the children or young people want to social that’s great, but remember to give them time and space to get comfortable at their own pace if they would rather.

  13. Be alcohol aware
  14. Be wary that children in care may have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs at home, and seeing people drinking at home could cause anxieties to surface, so drink responsibly.

Tips for a Successful Winter’s Day Out

Winter is a wonderful time of year, but often the chill of the outdoors is motivation enough to close the curtains and stay well within the warmth of your home. Whilst this is cosy, it often doesn’t take long until the kids are bursting with energy and looking for things to do. Here are some tips and ideas for a successful Winter’s day out:

Staying warm:

  1. Make sure everyone is all wrapped up with scarves, hats and gloves. Keeping heads and hands warm is crucial and will ensure nobody catches a cold!
  2. Waterproof clothing – expect the expected! Always take big coats or waterproof anoraks with hoods to hand. An umbrella is always a good idea if you’re planning to be outside, and of course wellies! After all, squelching about in the mud and jumping in puddles is what it’s all about.
  3. Thick fluffy socks are a must.
  4. Don’t forget lip salve and hand cream – cold, windy weather can dry out lips and hands.
  5. Portable hand warmers – an inexpensive treat.

Things to do:

  1. Take a walk around the park. Though it can be a bit nippy, admiring the changing season, kicking up piles of leaves and stopping for a quick coffee or hot chocolate can make for a lovely time with the children.
  2. Trip to the local cinema. You can find great deals online to keep the kids and your wallet happy!
  3. Ice skating – search online for a Winter Wonderland near you.
  4. Visit somewhere you haven’t been before, or haven’t visited in ages. Beaches can be perfect this time of year, especially with dogs.
  5. Explore the Christmas markets! Christmas comes around quickly – now’s the time to start your Christmas Shopping and pick up little gifts for the family.

Short Term and Long Term Fostering

Fostering is about providing a child or young person with a safe, comfortable place that they can call home for a while. There are many types of fostering placements, but the main two are short or long term.

What is short term fostering?

Short-term fostering is more common with young children, and can be anything from a one night emergency stay up to up to two years. These placements often occur whilst plans for a child or young person’s future are being made, for example in between care proceedings or court hearings.

What is long term fostering?

Long-term fostering placements provide children with more permanency if they are unlikely to be returning to their family. Children and young people in long term placements are typically cared for up until they reach adulthood and are able to care for themselves.

Which type of fostering is right for me?

Whether short term or long term placements are suitable for you depends on your own family and lifestyle, and the needs of the looked after child. The type of fostering you provide will be agreed as part of your foster carer assessment and may change as you move through your fostering career.

There is a national shortage of foster carers who are looking for long-term placements, with most placements being short-term.

If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a carer or would like to find out more about the other types of fostering, get in touch today – click here.

3 Common Fostering Challenges and How To Overcome Them

  1. Managing challenging behaviour

Foster children are complex individuals with complex needs and backgrounds. Sometimes, to come to terms with what they’ve been through, children manifest these needs in the form of seemingly antisocial or self-destructive behaviours. Such as violence and tantrums, self-harm and running away from home.

To help them deal with what they’re going through, and to overcome or manage these behaviours, it’s important to bear in mind the possible reasons behind them: physical or mental health issues, abusive relationships during early development, or trouble adjusting to a new way of life.

How should you react to these behaviours? Although every child and their behaviours are unique and should be treated as such, you always need patience and preparation. During your training with us you’ll be given critical thinking and behaviour management tips to help you approach the task in general. And you’ll always have a Supporting Social Worker and peer groups to learn from when dealing with specific behaviours. It could take years to help them, but you’re never on your own.

 

  1. Interacting with biological families

One of the primary aims of a foster placement is often to reunite parent and child when it’s safe and beneficial to do so. This means continued contact is vital, although it’s not always easy. Sometimes biological families are well aware that they need help from a foster carer while they work through their issues, but other times they can be more resistant.

Anger and resentment might be aimed at you, with parents refusing to see you as someone who’s trying to help. But stick at it and give them a chance. Maintaining these relationships can have long-term benefits for the child’s wellbeing, so it’s important to see past previous parental challenges and focus on the future.

How can you manage these relationships? Most importantly, make sure you always liaise with your Supervising Social Worker before making contact. They’ll be able to give you background information and help make sure you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Keep to any appointments you make, remain positive and be honest. Over time you may break through and begin to work together as a team.

 

  1. Experiencing exhaustion in your own life

Burnout can be a real problem for foster carers, especially when caring for multiple children. You put so much effort into helping others that you could become overwhelmed when also balancing your social life, relationships and responsibilities.

If you begin to feel run down, unmotivated or depressed, it’s time to call your Supervising Social Worker to find a solution together and make some changes as soon as possible. After all, if you’re too exhausted to care for yourself, you’ll have a difficult time giving a foster child the love and support they need.

How can you keep on top of exhaustion? If possible, make time for yourself each week when a partner, backup carer or someone else in your support network can take on your responsibilities. (Your Supervising Social Worker can help you set this up – you never need to face things alone.) In addition, keep yourself fit and healthy, eat well and get plenty of rest. Combined, these simple activities are incredibly good for you. And what’s good for you is usually good for your fostering household too.

A Child We Are Helping

Child was placed with a foster carer from birth and was moved after unsuccessful attempts to place her for adoption. Her future potential was unknown and based on her current levels of development it was generally expected that she would be severely limited compared to her peers.

November 2012

Child was placed with Foster Carer in November 2012 aged 3 years.

Child has Global Developmental Delay and possible Autism (undiagnosed). She is unable to verbally communicate her needs and wants, and as result tends to scream if she does not like something. Child rarely makes eye contact or smiles. Child is unable to dress herself or attend any level of personal hygiene. She finds bathing and particularly hair washing very difficult. Child wears nappy both day and night. She does not appear to know when she has soiled or wet herself.

Child has complex health needs which impact on her development in all areas. Child now attends three sessions a week at Nursery. This should continue as it addresses many of her developmental and social needs. Child has regular sessions with an Early Years Support Team.

Child has regular medical appointments including speech therapy, physiotherapy, developmental assessments and most recently a genetic assessment.

Child has historically found it difficult to interact successfully with adults and, more prominently, her peer group. She has tended to cry and scream when placed in a new situation – especially one with bright lights and lots of noise. That said, Child’s social skills have noticeably improved since she started to attend nursery in September 2012 and she will now interact with adults to some degree and plays alongside her peers.

Child attends regular swimming sessions which she appears to enjoy. Child can crawl proficiently and is now able to stand whilst holding on to the backs of chairs. However, she is not able to walk. Her hand-eye coordination is very poor.

Child has been ‘fussy’ with regards to her diet but will benefit from being introduced to a wider range of flavours and textures. Child can eat finger food; however, she will scream and cry if presented with new foods. She currently refuses to use a cup and prefers one bottle but has been encouraged to explore a cup at nursery, and will put her fingers in to it and suck from it.

July 2013

Child is now walking without support, she can go up and down the stairs but Foster Carer always supervises. Foster Carer reports Child is screaming a lot less now than when she was first placed, but still express herself by screaming when distressed or faced with new situation.

Child will sit and turn pages of her story books. Child can wave and clap her hands. Child eats her main meals on a plate and can drink from a cup now.

Foster Carer states Child has successfully improved her interactions with adults and her peer group. Child sees a lot of Carer’s twin grandchildren who are of a similar age. The children get on well and this seems to help Child who appears to look forward to their visits and going out with them. The screaming and crying has drastically reduced.

Foster Carer has noticed that Child appears to fear noises in the kitchen when kitchen appliances are in use. However, when the builders were recently at the home and using appliances in the kitchen she was not fazed by this. Interestingly, she seems only fazed when Carer uses these appliances.

Child enjoys watching programmes on the television, e.g. news and the weather forecast. Child is still not verbal, but can be vocal in attempting to communicate her needs and wants. Child goes shopping with Carer. Foster Carer takes Child out regularly to walk the dog in the park. Carer’s grand-children visit and play with Child over weekends and Foster Carer often takes them to places e.g. local parks and safaris.

Foster Carer is supporting Child to try things for herself – such as using a cutlery and standing up to reach things. Foster Carer feels Child is starting to demonstrate a potential for more independent skills than her referral may have indicated.

October 2013

Child’s health has been generally fine, she has been eating and sleeping well.

Child had an appointment for physiotherapy and was signed off from further physio as it was thought Child is developing. Child also had an eye appointment and was referred to a specialist. Child required custom glasses and wears these daily. Child must wear an eye patch for 1 hour a day on the good eye to ascertain if she can see out of the bad eye.

Child now attends a different nursery, and Child also attends a toddler group once a week. Child enjoys nursery and toddler group and is very happy when she arrives there.

Foster Carer visited possible follow on schools to determine which would be the most appropriate school for Child’s needs.

Foster Carer has noticed that Child continues to fear the washing machine noise in the kitchen. Foster Carer did take Child to the launderette to ascertain if she would react in a similar way or whether it was just the machine in her home that made Child so agitated, in case they could change the appliance to solve the issue. However, Child did react in the same manner so Foster Carer quickly removed her from the launderette.

Child continues to be generally happy and tries to laugh at things, smiling at people in shops and when people visit the house. Child likes to say goodbye and stand on the grass and wave people off.

Child is trying to speak. Child can get up and down the kerb on her own and when Foster Carer asks her to put her shoes on, Child can fetch them and put them on the floor ready to go out. When Foster Carer says, “bed time”, Child opens the lounge door and walks up the stairs.

Child continues to interact well with carer’s twin grandchildren and enjoys their company. They encourage Child to try new things and encourage her. The three children have developed a very positive relationship which is reciprocal.

February 2014

Child has been diagnosed with 22q11.2 Duplications. This rare disorder can cause developmental delay, mobility problems, and behaviour issues, hearing loss, identifiable facial features and a problem with the heart structure. Child continues to visit the CDC. This is a three-monthly check-up.

Child’s health has been generally good. Child has been eating and sleeping well. Child had an appointment at the hospital allergy clinic due to a rash that Child experienced recently. However, Foster Carer was informed that Child has sensitive skin due to her not being socialised when she was younger.

Child continues to be generally happy and tries to laugh at things, smiling at people in shops and when people visit the house. Positive interactions even with people she does not know – a major improvement. Child can wave to people hello and goodbye and to shake her head to indicate no. Child is making attempts at speech and indicating a real desire to communicate in this way.

Child is now able to use the potty. This is a significant breakthrough. Foster Carer needs to ask her if she needs to go to the toilet, but then Child will promptly sit on the potty. Carer, along with guidance from school, will begin to use visual aids, encouraging Child to use these when she needs to go.

September 2014

Child attends new school and has settled in well. Child is very happy to go on the bus to school and waves goodbye to Foster Carer as she goes. At school Child has been painting, playing with lots of toys and playing on the slide and swings. Child enjoys swimming with the school every Tuesday.

Child is not tired when she returns home.

There have been incidents since Child returned to school following the summer holidays (after Child had remained dry through the night and during the day) where she was very wet when she returned home. Foster Carer did talk to the school and Foster Carer informed that the school recognised Child may have been given top up of her drinks by various staff members and thus she was more desperate to go the toilet than usual.

Child enjoys shopping with Foster Carer. Foster Carer takes Child out regularly to walk the dog in the park. Carers grandchildren visit and play with Child at weekends and Foster Carer often takes them to activity based places.

Foster Carer states Child has successfully improved her interaction with adults and her peer group. Her Foster Carer reported that Child had a great summer and could go to the seaside for two weeks. Foster Carer reported that Child achieved so much over that period, she loved her holiday and enjoyed going into the sea, playing on the beach, going on a donkey ride, riding the train and going to an entertainment club at night. A year ago, this would not have been possible as Child was reluctant to do any activity that was beyond her usual, so this is great progress.

Foster Carer also reported that her granddaughter had to go into hospital and Child sat on her bed, stroking her hair and saying ‘ahh’. Foster Carer states that Child was very gentle and was aware she was not well. This shows Child can display empathy and she has also showed this with Carer’s dog.

Child is now able to run back and forward and goes from room to room. She is becoming more confident and is not afraid to explore now. She will look in cupboards and investigate the washing machine. Child also understands a lot more, she understands what Foster Carer is asking of her most of the time. Child now goes out to the shed and gets herself a toy to play with. Child can use a fork as well as a spoon to eat her dinner and can drink out of an open cup on her own.

Child is dry through the day and night. This is a remarkable achievement as there were questions when she was first placed if she would be able to walk or eat properly, the idea that she could be potty trained was not even considered. School are trying to incorporate a system where Child uses visual aids to indicate when she needs to use the toilet, or she needs something drink/eat.

Child can say a few words although she tends to say some words and then will not say them anymore. Now, she can say thank you.

Foster Carer is continuing to support Child to try things for herself – such as using cutlery and standing up to reach things.

February 2015

Foster Carer reported that Child had a difficult week beginning the 12th January. This coincided with changes in transportation times. The bus time to transport Child to school changed to 8.30am instead of 8.00am so that Child was not on the bus for such a long period. However, children were already on the bus before Child and she did not like this and became distressed. Child would cry every morning. There was also a new pupil who enrolled at the school and school reported that Child was very quiet. Child was unsettled at home for two weeks during this period where she cried a lot, she was quiet and did not want to do things for herself, did not want to play with Carer’s grandchildren and would not play with the dog.

This was all very unusual for Child.

The bus driver changed his pick-up times back to the previous plan and this seemed to settle her. When she got used to the new pupil she was fine and has been back to her usual self. It is apparent that Child finds it difficult to cope with change and needs time to adjust.

Child continues to be generally happy. She is becoming more confident and is not afraid to explore. Child does enjoy attention from people, she still prefers adult company rather than with other children, although she has a positive relationship with Carer’s grandchildren. Child tends to learn a lot from them, she will copy them and they encourage her to try things that she would normally be a little hesitant in doing. This is helping her development in many areas.

Child now puts her cup and plate in the sink when she has finished, and will indicate if she wants a drink by pointing to where the juice is kept, she then selects what flavour she wants and puts the bottle back after use. Child peeled a Satsuma for the first time. Child was very pleased with this achievement. Child can say several words and Foster Carer believes Child understands everything she says.

Foster Carer is continuing to support Child to try things for herself – putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket and putting her shoes on and off.

September 2015

Foster Carer will take Child out to many fun places. Child has been to a farm recently, participating in a bear hunt, riding on a pony and going on to bouncy castle. Child has been attending a club for three weeks during the summer holidays and seems to have really enjoyed it. She appeared to be able to cope better with a change in her routine.

Foster Carer has also taken Child swimming, to a miniature railway, flower arranging and pottery.

Child was not happy for the first two weeks at school, as she was in a new class and was not impressed with the changes. Child was not happy with the new transport people. They don’t get off the bus or speak to Child like she’s used to. She is going a bit later in the mornings, 8.15am, but not getting home until 4.40pm. Three weeks on and they now say good morning and Child seems a bit happier, but again is not responding well to changes in her routines.

Child hates to get dirty and was upset when she fell over at school and got muddy.

Child is talking a lot and now using proper words in her sentences. Child tries to have conversations with Foster Carer and Foster Carer does know what Child is trying to say. Foster Carer believes that Child understands everything she says to her and responds to it. For example; Foster Carer will ask Child what she has done at the play scheme and Child will say “yes or no” to what activities she has been participating in.

Child recently celebrated her 5th birthday and Foster Carer reports that Child had a good birthday party and enjoyed opening all her presents and blowing out all the candles on her cake. She needs encouragement to play with new toys. Child is making steady progress in all areas.

Child is more verbal, talking all the time and has learnt new words in the summer holidays. Child is now able to make clearer choices now she has found her voice. Child can say what she likes and dislikes. Child has recently managed to get herself dressed, without putting her clothes inside out and back to front. Child will put the juice back in the cupboard after use and will wipe the table after dinner.

The progress Child has made to date has been down to the determination of Foster Carer with giving child as much control over her own life as possible. Foster Carer believes this is crucial for Child’s future as an adult and to ensure that she can have a good quality life experience.

Foster Carer has worked consistently and patiently, giving Child structure and routine so she is able to predict what is coming next in daily life.

Foster Carer has promoted choices for Child and welcomed toddler like tantrums which they believe indicates a normal part of development as she begins to learn to manage emotions.