Are You Really Listening?

One of the most important skills you can have, not only as a foster carer but in your everyday life is listening. The effectiveness of your listening has an impact on the way you perform your job and the quality of the relationships you have with other people in your life. The need to listen is vital for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  • To obtain information
  • To gain an understanding
  • For enjoyment
  • To learn

You would think that with the amount of listening we do in our everyday lives that we’d all be expert listeners. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. In fact, research shows that most of us only recall between 25 and 50% of what we hear. Those times when you’re listening to a meeting, listening to the children or listening to the radio, you’re only taking in about half of the conversation, or less! Quite shocking when you think about it. Just think about all that information that is being lost.

Not hearing the whole message can be quite dangerous at times, but it could also mean that you’re missing the whole story. There are things being said to you that you aren’t hearing, resulting in mix messages, lost trust, misunderstandings and so on. Hopefully, you will have captured all the most important parts of the conversation, but what if you haven’t? What have you missed?

Listening is obviously an important skill, one that we would all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listening you’ll improve your overall productivity but also your abilities to influence, persuade and negotiate. Furthermore, conflicts and misunderstandings can be avoided, and workplace successes increase.

Speak to us about the importance of listening and other skills required for fostering in the Midlands. We’re waiting to hear from you and share our information with you to assist your fostering journey.

Saying Thanks to Sons and Daughters of Foster Carers

The Fostering Network has launched the month-long celebration of the vital contributions that are made by the sons and daughters of foster carers throughout the UK.  Sons and Daughters Month is an annual campaign that puts focus on the birth and adopted children of foster carers that play such an important role in fostering. The children provide vital contributions to welcoming the fostered children into their home. To celebrate and thank the children, the fostering communities will be holding many events during November.

Approximately half of foster carers have birth or adopted children still living in the family home when fostering. These children can often make a huge difference to the fostered children entering the new environment, helping them to settle and feel at ease. Some potential foster carers decide not to foster because they have birth or adopted children in the home. However, many birth and adopted children benefit from being a part of the fostering family, finding the experience enriching and helping them to develop as individuals.

Thoughts from the Children of Foster Carers

Lydia Bright, well known for her The Only Way is Essex, grew up as a part of a fostering family. Her mum, Debbie Douglas became a carer when Lydia was in her teens. Lydia has spoken about how chaotic those times sometimes were but also how she wouldn’t have changed anything. She has experience so much love, companionship and has many treasured memories. Lauran, another daughter of foster carers also spoke about how much she has learned through being part of a fostering family. She talked about listening to the foster children’s stories and providing support for them during times of heartbreak. As a result of her life experiences, Lauren now wants to do more for people in care.

The Chief of The Fostering Network Kevin Williams says that Sons and daughter provide valuable contributions to the foster family. In the UK, 64,0000 children are living with a foster family and their foster brothers and sisters are helping them to feel settled, loved and happier.

Learn more about Sons and Daughter Month: https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/get-involved/championing-fostering/sons-and-daughters-month

Concerned about your own children adapting to life as a foster family? Get in touch and we’ll provide you with information and answer your questions.

Changes to the Foundation Fostering Team

It’s been a busy time for us here at Foundation Fostering. At the start of the month, we said goodbye to Justin Daniels, our excellent social worker student. Justin has been an incredible asset to our team during his time with us. We wish him good luck as he continues his journey.

Welcome Cheryl, Our New Social Worker Assistant

We now have the pleasure of introducing you to our latest team member, Cheryl. Cheryl is our new social worker assistant. Her journey into the world of fostering began after completing the HR Management Masters Level qualification in 2014. Cheryl has worked with another fostering agency where her main role was conducting initial visits and first assessments with potential foster carers. It was that work that inspired her next career move to start the BSC in Social Work – clearly, the Masters wasn’t enough to discourage further learning!

Cheryl is a mum to two boys in their twenties, has two Labradors and enjoys planning events. No doubt she’ll be coming up with lots of activities for us to do in the near future, we’ll keep you informed! Our foster carers will be meeting Cheryl soon (if they haven’t already).

Welcome to the team Cheryl, we’re delighted to have you.

Get to Know The Foundation Fostering Team

Are you interested in becoming a foster carer? We’re here to talk, whether you have your heart set on fostering in the Midlands, have experience, no experience or are at the stage of just finding out more. More foster carers are needed and we’re always interested in learning more about your ambitions and providing information that will help you on your journey. Give us a call on 01684 311 555 or drop us a message and one of our friendly team will be in touch.

Listening to Our Foster Carers

Listening to foster carers

Last week we touched on the importance of listening. The child’s voice needs to be heard and therefore active listening is a powerful tool that carers, professionals, and parents need to have under their belt. As a fostering agency, we also believe in the value of listening to the voices of all our foster carers.

The Carers Voice

Nick began visiting our foster carers in September and continues to do so with one clear purpose in mind. As a fostering agency, we want to know what we’re doing well and what areas our foster carers believe we can improve. These consultations will be taking place until the end of November. The information gathered will be used to help us learn, grow and improve as an agency.

Nick is a big fan of wisdom quotes and here’s one of Abraham Lincolns that he wished to share with you. “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time”

In the words of Nick “Whilst this may be true it does not detract from the agency’s genuine commitment to continuously improve and learn from you”.

The Carer’s Voice

We’d like to thank our foster carers for providing excellent feedback regarding our training venue. In response to that feedback, we’ve decided to hold the next training session at Basepoint Business Centre in Bromsgrove. Moving forward, our training sessions will be provided at a variety of venues and take place on different days of the week.

We highly recommend you come along to the next two training sessions provided by Shades in addition to the Carer Support Group. We look forward to seeing you at Basepoint.

The Child’s Voice: The Value of Actively Listening

Active listening A child that isn’t listened to is a child that feels disempowered. Carers and professionals are expected to know what is best for the children and this often results in the feelings and the wishes of the child going unnoticed, along with their rights. Children are left feeling like they have no control. This oppression often results in the children acting out, being very angry and going missing.  For most children that are in care, they have had adults making all the decisions for them, beginning when they are placed into care. Actively listening is extremely beneficial and this is something that we encourage and support you with.

Actively Listening

Positive attachment behaviours, child development and the safeguarding of children required active listening, as highlighted in the Munro Report in 2011. The report highlighted the importance of actively listening to what the children want and need so that more could be done to ensure the children can shape their own futures and be actively involved in the provision of services they receive.

As a fostering agency, we firmly support the voice of the child and we believe that we’re the agency of choice for children and professionals looking to shift the balance of power from ‘doing to’ over to ‘doing with’.

The child’s voice is so important. We see this when children become involved in plans and have more successful experiences and outcomes. By active listening we’re able to see from the point of view of the child and children can develop their own story of what is happening. They want our attention and our time, they don’t want assumptions being made or to repeat the same story over and over. What children want is the truth, honest and clear explanations so they can understand. Children need to have some control over some of the choices that are being made and most importantly kept at the centre of all decisions.

Evidence shows that children whose voices are not heard don’t feel as safe, they are less happy and their wellbeing is decreased. When adults dominate all decisions and make assumptions the children become less visible. We can work together, spending time getting to know the children, what they are worried about, their concerns, interest, and ambitions. We can show an active interest. Children need to be age-appropriately involved and directly heard.

Learn more about active listening and shifting the power balance by speaking to us here at Foundation Fostering or clicking on the link below.

Further Reading

Listening to Children’s Perspectives

Keeping Children Safe : Training for Child Protection

 

 

Interesting in Becoming a Foster Carer?

We are always interested in talking to anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer in the Midlands.  One of the biggest difficulties we face is finding people who are genuinely interested in fostering children. A recent report by Action for Children stated that out of all the adults that were surveyed, 85% were not interested, or had very little interest in becoming a foster carer. That sounds quite disappointing, but as a fostering agency, we know that there are many people, singles and couples, who would love to learn more about fostering.

What Skills Do Foster Carers Need?

Foster carers need to have the necessary skills and experience to provide care to the children or young people that are placed in their care. The main factors that we are looking for are the desire to give a child or young person a place in your home and family.  It’s also vital that you wish to provide children with often complex behaviours a safe, secure, supported and happy home environment. You don’t need to come to us with any particular qualifications, but you will need to be ready to learn and increase your self-awareness and understanding.

Supportive Fostering Services

We provide training and support around the clock to all of our foster carers.  The only way foster carers can perform at their best is by being supported fully. We make it our priority to ensure support, training and remuneration in order to retain our excellent carers, and we work together in a professional capacity.

Across the UK, 7,000 further foster families are required to provide enough homes and care for children and young people next year. We are always ready to talk to those that express an interest in fostering in the Midlands.  Are you ready to make a huge difference? Give us a call, we’re here to answer your questions.

 

What is Cyberbullying?

In 2016, ChildLine carried out 12,000 counselling sessions with children and young people about online issues. Cyberbullying is a serious problem that can happen at any time and in any place. Children are not safe from cyberbullying whenever they have access to the Internet. This could be when they are using their mobile phone in the street, at their friend’s house, when using a Laptop, PC or tablet at home and even when playing games consoles that are connected to the Internet. They may even be bullied online while they are at school or when they’re at home alone. As cyberbullying is so pervasive, it can be impossible to escape.

Cyberbullying is sometimes an extension of more traditional forms of bullying that takes place offline. However, it can also be performed by people that are unknown to the victim and carried out anonymously. The names shown online might not be genuine as it’s easy for the bully to create fake profiles.

Here are a few examples of cyberbullying:

  • Texts received that contain threats or abuse
  • Creation and the sharing of images and videos embarrassing the victim
  • The victim could be trolled on a variety of platforms including social networks and in chat rooms or when gaming online
  • Being excluded from online activities.
  • Creation of hate sites or groups.
  • The encouragement of self-harm.
  • The creation of abusive polls.
  • Creation of fake profiles using the name of the victim.
  • Stealing online IDs
  • Pressuring children to discuss sex or sexual conversations and/or send sexual images.

It is important to understand cyberbullying and to help your children or the young people in your care to stay safe online. The NSPCC have lots of useful advice for protecting children from abuse and cyberbullying, including the Be Share Aware campaign and Help Protect Children Online. Click the link to learn more.

Foundation Fostering Staff Dig in to Help Nurture Wellbeing of Local Community

Foundation Fostering at Link Nursery
Left to right Karen Leccese, Admin Assistant, Nick Eadon, Operations Director, Dean temple, Manager, Cheryl Nairn, Social work student, Phil Woodhead, Link Centre Manager

Our Foundation Fostering team building day was combined with a show of support for Link Nurseries and to help nurture wellbeing of the local community. We had a glorious day, enjoying the early September sunshine while flexing our green fingers and picking up some new skills. We swapped out our usual office environment for polytunnels and plenty of fresh air. We wanted to help promote the excellent gardening project at Link Nurseries. The project provides therapeutic horticulture for people with mental health difficulties and disabilities.

Dean Rhubarb

Our Thursday was spent working very hard to clear out the polytunnels, we also prepared beds and planted numerous seeds. The Autumn beds were replanted with lettuce, dwarf beans and chicory. We also harvested the beautiful rhubarb and cleared the crowns for the winter months ahead.

Our small team consisted of Karen Leccese, our Admin Assistant, Operations Director Nick Eadon, Manager Dean Temple, Cheryl Nairn our social work student and the Link Centre Manager, Phil Woodhead.

We wanted to volunteer at the nursery because we share their goals of improving mental health and wellbeing in the local community. We have a shared concern for adults and children whose life experience left them vulnerable and in need of support and care.

Nick wheelbarrow Foundation Fostering at Link Nursery

Nick Eadon said:

“As part of our commitment to social action, we have given money to local charities that work with parents and children, sponsored a local cricket team, and today we rolled up our sleeves to ‘dig-in’ and show our support for Link Nurseries.

“It’s been a real pleasure to spend the day here out in the fresh air working to help the nursery get ready for autumn and the Malvern Autumn Show. As staff, we have all benefited from being out of the office and doing something different together.  A huge thank you to Phil, Nursery Manager, for welcoming us to this undiscovered gem.

“Like Link Nurseries, we aim to focus on individuals’ abilities, while recognising their needs. We are very impressed with what’s on offer here for adults who need a helping hand, and we hope this is the start of a supportive relationship between us.”

Foundation Fostering

Phil Woodhead, centre manager at Link Nurseries, said:

“The Foundation Fostering team have worked hard to help us in the garden today and we hope they’ve also learned a few new skills.”

“The team have planted a number of autumn beds that should produce vegetables later in the season. We’ve also discovered useful ways that we can work together and support each other in our shared aims. All in all, a good day.”

 

 

 

Can I Transfer to Foundation Fostering?

Foster carers are free to choose who they work with, so it is always your choice if you would like to transfer to a different fostering agency, including transferring to Foundation Fostering.  If you are a foster carer you’re free to transfer to us. Your rights are protected and we follow the “Protocol for the Transfer of Foster Carers between Agencies” document. This is the document that is used to manage the transfer process.

The protocols are frequently reviews and they are revised when necessary to ensure they meet the current regulations, statutory guidance legislation and the national minimum standards governing the UK fostering services.  There are protocols for Northern Ireland, Scotland and for England. You can learn more about all the Transfer of foster carers protocol by visiting The Fostering Network.

If you are thinking about transferring to Foundation Fostering here are the steps that are involved:

  • The first step is to let us know, nothing can happen until you get in touch with us. You can always ask us questions and have no obligation to transfer if you change your mind or if you’re only making an enquiry.
  • We’ll give you the opportunity to speak directly with foster carers who work with us.
  • You are always free to contact other fostering agencies, even while discussing transferring with us.
  • Once you decide to transfer to Foundation Fostering we will wait for you to discuss your plans with your current agency before we contact them and arrange a meeting.
  • The next step is for us to meet with your current agency and social workers of any children in placement to agree the transfer arrangement.
  • We will make arrangements to ensure that children in placement don’t suffer any distress or disruption as a result of your transfer.
  • You’ll meet with one of our social workers and a new Form F Assessment and documentation will be created.
  • We work with you and your foster agency to find a suitable date to present your assessment to our fostering panel.
  • Confirmation of the completed transfer is made with yourself and the social workers of the children in placement.

Ready to talk to us about transferring to Foundation Fostering? Fill in our contact form or call the office and speak to one of our team.

Adoption and Fostering – What’s the Difference?

Many people contact us to learn more about fostering in the West Midlands. One of the questions we get asked is whether or not they will be able to adopt children via our fostering services. We provide specialist fostering services and not adoption services in the Midlands. Fostering isn’t the same as adoption. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

Fostering provides children and young people with a home and home environment during periods of time when they’re unable to stay at their own family home. The foster carers don’t ever have parental responsibility for the children or young people in their care. They may needed to be fostered for a couple of days or for longer periods, but many children will go back to live with their own family. Sometimes the children stay in long term foster care but they want to remain in contact with their own family, even if they can’t go and live with their families again. These children will continue to receive support from the health and social care trust of from the local authority.

Adoption is different from fostering. Adoption gives the children who can’t live with their families a new family and family home. The new parents or adopters are legally given full parental responsibility.  The children or young people will no longer have any legal ties to their birth parents. They also gain the new family name and become a full member of the family.

It is important to know the differences between fostering and adoption. It’s also extremely important to think about what path is right for you. Do you want to adopt or would you prefer to become a foster carer in the Midlands? These may be difficult decisions to make, so do your research and take your time. Please remember that we are happy to speak to you about fostering and help you to make an educated decision on your fostering journey.