Help Stop Siblings Being Split Up in Foster Care

Large amounts of children are sadly separated from their brothers and sisters in foster care. In 2014 almost half of sibling groups went to different foster homes according to Action for Children.  The reason why so many are not kept together is simple. There’s a shortage of foster carers who have the ability to take care of groups of children. It’s essential to try and fill this shortage in faster carers to help ensure sibling groups can remain together when they’re at their most vulnerable.

Open Your Hearts and Your Homes

Groups of brothers and sisters continue to come into care. It is beneficial for the children to remain together. This may include groups of 2 children but sometimes it may be as many as 3 or 4. We are continuing our search to find new foster carers or existing foster carers keen on transferring, to open their homes to these children. By keeping the children together they are able to settle quicker and keep their sibling bond intact.

7,000 New Foster Carers are Required in the UK

The Fostering Network reports that there is a need to find 7,000 new foster carers in the UK. Foster carers who have the essential skills that are needed to provide loving, safe and secure homes to children at their time of need. If you think you could help or you would like to learn more about the possibility of becoming a foster carer in Worcestershire and the West Midlands, we’d love to hear from you.

Preparing for Your First Foster Child

Once you have been approved it won’t be long before you’re opening your home to your first foster child. This time can be exciting but also quite daunting, these are completely natural emotions. We remind our carers that we are here to give our support, but that’s not the only support available. All of our approved foster carers are registered with The Fostering Network.  The Fostering Network is the leading fostering charity here in the UK. They offer additional support and advice for carers and their families.

Preparing to Foster in the Midlands

In most cases, the children will meet the foster carers before they are placed.  The carers may also meet the family of the children beforehand, helping to develop a strong relationship to benefit the child and the whole family. You will need to share household rules with the children, giving a clear understanding of the daily routines and also hobbies and activities the family members are involved in. It’s important to establish the rules and expectations in the early stages and explain the consequences of not following the house rules.  The creation of ‘safer caring’ policies helps to ensure the child feels safe and that they are not going to be harmed by anyone in the home.

The bedroom will need to be prepared. All foster children must have a room of their own. Make it welcoming and provide them with a safe space that they can call their own for the duration of their stay with you.

The foster child is highly likely to be experiencing a number of strong emotions when they arrive at your home. Common emotions include confusion and isolation. They may not understand their own feelings or express them.  This is when you’ll need to help the child to feel safe and secure in your home.  If you have any concerns or questions about preparing for fostering a child, please get in touch.

Urgent Call for New Foster Carers in the Midlands

Foster carers in the Midlands

According to The Fostering Network, there are almost 55,000 foster families living in the UK. Within those families, there are nearly 64,000 children. That figure is just shy of 80% of the total 81,000 children that are living in care and away from their family home.  These figures show what the foster care system is like for just one day. Over the next 12 months, an estimated 30,000 more children will come into care. Around 30,000 children will leave care during the same period. Those children might return to their family home or the home of another family member. Some will be adopted, or be subject of a special residency order or special guardianship. Others will become adults and begin their independent lives.

New Foster Carers Are Needed

The Fostering Network estimates that over the next 12 months a further 7,180 foster families need to be recruited across the UK.  We are currently seeking new foster families to join our independent fostering agency. We’re based in Worcestershire but we’re recruiting here and in Stoke-on-Trent, Kidderminster, Solihull, and Birmingham.  There is a huge demand for foster carers in the Midlands for older children, sibling groups and disabled children along with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.  Many of the current foster families are unable to provide care for these children. We would like to speak to anyone who is looking to begin their fostering journey.

A new child enters care every 20 minutes in the UK. Many of these children are split up from their brothers and sisters or end up living far away from their friends and family. They may also be placed with foster carers that don’t have the skills to provide the care that’s required. Currently and estimated 770 foster carers are needed in the West Midlands and 440 in the East Midlands.

Learn More About Becoming a Foster Carer

You can make a difference. Contact us today and ask about becoming a foster carer. We provide support for our carers to ensure they are equipped to look after the children in their care. Speak to us by calling the office on 01684 311 555 or leave us a message by clicking here and filling in the form or sending us an email.

Men Play an Important Role in Fostering Children in the Midlands

Male fostering children in the Midlands

Many people think of women when it comes to foster carers. It’s too easy to overlook the men, but they play such a vital role. Male foster carers are sometimes the first positive male role model for the children in their care. We are always here to provide support to our male and female foster carers in the Midlands.

Forming Trusting Relationships with Male Foster Carers

Being placed in a safe and loving home can transform the lives of vulnerable children. Male foster carers will possibly be teaching the child or children that men can be trustworthy. They can teach the young people that they can be approached and trusting relationships can be formed.  Sadly, many men are put off foster care despite playing such an important role. One of the reasons for this is that foster care is seen as a female profession. However, many men do wish to work with children and there are thousands of male foster carers here in the UK. Some are as part of a couple but there are many that are single foster carers too.

We provide our male and female foster carers with ongoing support and training. We provide training here at our offices in Hanley Swan, but also online. We appreciate that it can be hard to find the time to come out and receive the training, which is why our online training is such an important addition to Foundation Fostering.  There is also further support available from The Fostering Network. All of our foster carers are automatically signed up for The Fostering Network. They provide an abundance of information and resources for all.

We recommend reading ‘Men are Good Foster Carers Too’ if you’re considering entering fostering.  We’re also available on the end of the phone or email, give us a call to learn more about becoming a foster carer in the Midlands.

Further reading suggestion: Fostering the Father’s Day

Foster Carers, Be Share Aware

Share Aware Foster Carers

Keeping children and young people safe online can be quite daunting. It can be very hard tracking online activities, especially for older children. Foster carers and parents can help encourage online safety in young people by reaching them to be Share Aware.

What is Share Aware?

Share Aware is a campaign from the NSPCC, who teamed up with O2 to help parents and guardians ‘untangle the web’.  One of the most important things you can do is to talk. Have regular conversations about the online world with the young people. Talk about their activities, about the risks and also show that you are there to listen. Talk to them about their concerns and let them know that you’re approachable.  It’s also important to teach children what is okay to share online and what isn’t.

Share Aware Tips

Here are the four easy steps to follow from the O2 and NSPCC:

  1. Talk about how to stay safe online
  2. Explore their online world with them
  3. Agree to some rules that they will need to follow
  4. Manage your own online settings and put parental controls into action

A few topics to bring up include:

  • what apps and websites they like to visit
  • Ask the children if they know how to stay safe online and ask them to share their knowledge with you
  • Let the children know what they should never share online, such as their personal information

Talk to the children to find out what they enjoy doing online. Generally, young people go online to share photos and videos and to view photos and videos posted by others. They also go online and use apps to chat to people, broadcast live and to play games. Find out the apps and website the children in your care are using by visiting it yourself. This is a great way of learning about the risks of the site and helping you to understand why they like to spend time there.

You can find lots of really helpful information on the NSPCC website and Net Aware.  We also share 10 online safety tips for children, here.

Help Young People Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet

healthy eating tips

Did you know that young people eat almost three times more sugar than their recommended daily amount? Shocking isn’t it. Eating too much sugar is a cause of concern as it can lead to unhealthy weight gain and diseases in later life.

Sugar isn’t the only problem. Children are eating many unhealthy snacks, giving them a quarter of the daily limit for saturated fats. Saturated fat can clog arteries, resulting in high cholesterol and increase the likely hood of heart disease. Salt is another problem. Most of the salt children eat is found in their food, before any additional salt is added.

Healthy Food Swaps for Young People

There are lots of useful resources that can help you to encourage young people to make sensible choices.  The NHS is a great resource and offers lots of ideas for healthy food swaps. Here is just a handful, to get you started:

  • Many fizzy drinks contain a huge amount of sugar. Obviously replacing fizzy drinks with water is the ideal swap to make. You might find this isn’t quite the same, so a great option is to try 100% fruit juice with no added sugar to some soda water.
  • Stop using whole milk (whole milk is a must for children under the age of 2).
  • Use low-fat spreads instead of butter and reduced fat cheese.
  • Grill food rather than frying food.
  • Stop eating white bread and start using wholegrain bread.
  • Don’t put table salt on the table, most food contains salt already.
  • Make your own popcorn and serve unsalted nuts as snacks.
  • Remember to try and eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. One excellent tip for adding fruit is to use it to sweeten cereals as a replacement for sugar.

Start reading the labels of the food you’re buying. Food labels give out a lot of information about how much fat, sugar, salt, protein and how many calories the food contains. Be sure to check the weight listed on the label, many show 100g when the food actually weighs a lot more. Compare the actual weight to the food label and do the math, you might find the ‘healthy’ snack is only healthy if you have a small portion.  Learn more about reading labels, here.

Welcoming Our New Education Ambassador

If you have read our latest newsletter you will already be aware of the latest addition to the Foundation Fostering team. However, we would like to extend a warm welcome to Helen, our new Education Ambassador. Helen has a history in Social Care and Education and skills from her work as an Education Welfare Officer.

Supporting Foster Carers and Our Looked After Children

Helen also brings a wealth of experience from her previous positions. She has spent time working in Children’s homes and Pupil Referral Units. The Pupil Referral Units are for young people who have been permanently excluded or experienced difficulties in mainstream education.  Helen aims to use her previous experience to provide excellent support for our foster carers and the children in their care.

Helen will work closely with our foster carers. She will ensure all of our looked after children are settled and have a supported education provision. Helen is looking forward to introducing herself to everyone personally. Helen will be reaching out to all of our foster carers and the children to have a chat and to get to know each other better.

Don’t forget to read the latest edition of our newsletter for more of the latest news. Please keep an eye on our newsletters in the coming months for all the latest news from Helen in the months to come.  You can also learn more about the Foundation Fostering team by clicking, here.

Foster Carers Introduced to the Secure Base Model

On 10 May a group of foster carers attended training led by Gill Cutter titled “Secure Base”.

The day offered an introduction to attachment: the history of understanding attachment, including the work of John Bowlby; a definition; references to research; recognising different attachment styles and the implications for children’s behaviour and meeting their needs. Group exercises helped to bring the information to life and encouraged participants to reflect on their own experiences, both as foster carers and from their own childhoods.

The importance of healthy attachment relationships for normal development and helping children achieve their potential was emphasised, with information on how to promote secure attachments.

The day introduced the secure base model, from the work of Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek at University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Secure Base Model
Source:https://www.uea.ac.uk/providingasecurebase/the-secure-base-model

Schofield and Beek say  ” The Secure Base Model provides a positive framework for therapeutic caregiving, which helps infants, children and young people to move towards greater security and builds resilience. It focuses on the interactions that occur between caregivers and children on a day to day, minute by minute basis in the home environment. But it also considers how those relationships can enable the child to develop competence in the outside world of school, peer group and community”.  The research undertaken by Schofield and Beek, and the model they have developed, is widely recognised as helpful to foster carers.  We will be expanding the training we offer using this model.

Meanwhile, here are some links where you can read more about attachment.

http://www.pafca.co.uk/theory-articles/

http://attachment-training.com/at/resources/attachment-primer/

Support and Training for Our Foster Carers

foster carer

We are dedicated to providing children and young people with a happy home life and positive outcomes. This is achieved by looking after the well-being and development of our foster carers. By giving our foster carers the support they need, they, in turn, are ready to support the young people in their care. We grow and evolve together. One of the ways we have recently evolved is the addition of online training courses.

We received very positive feedback after our first online course that was a refresher on safeguarding.  We shall continue to offer our online training courses moving forward.  Providing online training is an excellent way of working around busy lives and means everyone is able to attend with ease.

Face to Face Training for Foster Carers

The online training for our foster carers is in addition to the face to face training sessions we provide in our offices. We love to see you in person and we know that our foster carers also appreciate the contact that reaches beyond the Internet.  The online training is simply another way of ensuring everyone has full access to our courses.

We are always keen to hear all feedback, so if you haven’t let us know your thoughts on the online training, we’d love to hear them.

NSPCC Study Finds Children Don’t Feel Safe Online

NSPCC Study children onlineChildren are not feeling protected when they’re online, according to a recent study by the NSPCC. 1,696 children aged between 11 and 18 years were questioned as part of the NSPCC’s Net Aware programme.  Four out of five children feel that the social media companies they use aren’t doing enough to keep them safe. The study also revealed that children were being exposed to bullying, self-harm messages and images they don’t feel are appropriate. The riskiest sites rated by the children in the study were Facebook and Ask.fm.

Rating Websites, Apps and Games

The children were questioned about different experiences such as the signing up process and to see how appropriate the content was for their age group. They were also questioned about if they could report or block people on the site, game or app as well as change privacy settings and get support.

1,380 children out of the 1,695 that were questioned said that social media websites need to do more to stop them seeing harmful or inappropriate content.  A 16-year-old girl said that Ask.fm didn’t have strict controls and so lots of hurtful messages were being spread about people, which she believes contributes to self-harm and negative thoughts.  A spokesperson for Ask.fm said that the company takes the findings very seriously. They have contacted the NSPCC to learn more about the findings are working to improve tools and policies to protect their users.

Being Themselves in Virtual Worlds

Other websites that were rated include IMVU and Omegle. One 18-year-old male said he enjoyed using IMVU as he could be himself; choose how his avatar looks in the 3D virtual world and talk to people that don’t know him.

Peter Wanless, the NSPCC chief executive said that the ‘children don’t feel they are being shielded from upsetting, dangerous and adult content.  It’s vital parents know about their child’s online world and regularly talk with their children about how to get help if they need it.”

Read our 10 tips on how to help children stay safe online, here. Further advice is available from the NSPCC website.