Improved emotional wellbeing is one of St Christopher’s aims for the children and young people we care for. One way we achieve this is through our multi-disciplinary therapeutic teams.
Fern is an Art Therapist on the Isle of Man. She is part of the Wraparound therapeutic team, which works with children in care, adoptive parents, foster carers and social care staff to support their emotional wellbeing. The team’s skillset includes a range of therapeutic approaches to ensure that they can offer the most appropriate kind of help to their clients. Read below to find out how art therapy is making a difference to young people on the island.
“Our team is made up of five therapists, who are trained in various forms of therapy and counselling. Every Monday we meet to discuss developments and explore any new referrals to the service. People come to us with a variety of needs: attachment, abandonment and rejection, loss, neglect and trauma are ones that surface most regularly. As we provide therapeutic services to Looked After Children, care leavers and adoption families it is important we assess each case on an individual basis in order to signpost them to the most appropriate team member based on what type of therapeutic work is required. Working within a variety of children, young people, parents, adopters and carers means that every day is different, which makes this role interesting and a continuous learning experience.
My qualifications and skills lie in Art Therapy, which is different to more traditional therapies as the act of creating art is the primary form of communication between client and therapist. Art therapy is non-directive and richly rooted with psychological theory. In an art therapy session, creative acts form a bridge between the client’s conscious and unconscious minds. This bridge allows emotive material to surface into the client’s awareness. It is the job of the therapist to remain attuned to this so that they can support the client to identify significant feelings and experiences that may provide an informed understanding towards their wellbeing.
In my experience, using non-verbal, non-directive therapy is crucial when working with clients who have experienced severe neglect and trauma. As art therapy is so non-directive it becomes a comfortable way to support the client to process only as much as they feel able to at that time.
As Wraparound works with a client group who may have experienced little exposure to boundaries and structure, part of my role is investing time and energy into defining the therapeutic structure, as well as providing a sense of safety within the therapeutic room. These little acts can become poignant, opening up doorways to explore the client’s attachment experiences and feelings towards rejection and loss.
In the beginning of working with a new client I gain an understanding of the client’s experiences and messages they believe with regard to their art-making, as these inform what the client needs to feel safe enough to engage in the art therapy process. When a piece of work is finished it is a marker in the client’s journey of therapy, which is often used to reflect their progress and pinpoint conscious awareness of significant factors.
Currently I am using art therapy principles to support two siblings in the process of moving back to their family home and making sense of their emotionally traumatic experiences. This work is received positively and evidences the power of creativity and its ability to inspire confidence, provide a sense of mastery and witness the trauma that has been experienced.”
Therapeutic support is just one way we create brighter futures for children and young people. Find out how your donations make a difference to their lives or support us today.
Did you know that as foster carer, you can foster both a parent and their children? It’s called PACT (Parents And Children Together), and there is a great need for PACT trained foster carers. Jane, one of FCC’s Supervising Social Workers and PACT trainer, explains why.
As a Supervising Social Worker for FCC I have supported many foster carers providing a variety of placements.
Recently, we have provided an increased number of Parent and Child placements. This is where a parent is placed alongside their child in the foster home. This can be one or two parents and a baby or a child. We have also had a mother and two children placed with us. This type of fostering is very different to the usual placement of a child or young person in the family home but is as equally rewarding.
Often these placements have been requested by the court where there have been concerns about the mother’s ability to parent and are usually requested for a 12 week assessment period, but due to circumstances this can vary.
Issues that we have dealt with include concerns around a parent’s previous drug or alcohol use, learning disabilities or inappropriate partners. Maybe the parent has previously had a child removed from their care. Having a parent live in the foster home gives them a chance to learn new skills and build their confidence to enable them to parent their child adequately.
Carers assist them with learning routines with regards to feeding, laundry, play and sleep times etc. Parents are involved in all aspects of family life with the carers acting as appropriate role models. Parents have been supported to attend local baby groups, visit the clinic and doctors etc. They have taken part in family activities to include meals out, cinema and barbeques. The carers need good observation and recording skills. They need good communication skills as they will need to build a relationship with the parent but also remain clear that they have to report back to the Social Worker on a regular basis.
We have seen children return with their parents to live in the community successfully with some keeping in contact with their carers afterwards. Sometimes this is not possible and the child’s needs have to remain the most important throughout. If the plan is for the child to live elsewhere the foster carers have an important role in supporting them to transition to a new family. Myself and an experienced PACT carer provide training and support specific to this role. PACT carers will have regular Social Work visits and 24 hour phone support. They will also have peer support from other PACT carers. It can be hard work but also very rewarding knowing that you have been part of a team making the best decision for a child.
One of our most experienced PACT carers said: “The thing I enjoy about PACT placements is that I’m not the babysitter. It’s my job to encourage the parent to be a good mum or dad and it’s rewarding watching them learn new skills.”
If you feel that you could become a PACT foster carer, or if you have an interest in fostering generally, you can make an initial enquire here.
While we’ve been in lockdown this year, Team Fostering has been exploring different ways to stay in touch with people who are considering becoming foster carers with the agency. We know it’s often a big decision to make even if you’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, and often you’ll have a whole bunch of questions you’d like to ask before you take your first step towards being a foster carer.
We also know that sometimes, when you’re looking for information about a big lifestyle change like fostering, a face-to-face conversation with someone friendly really helps – so as we entered social distancing this year, we wanted to make it just as easy for you to have a useful chat with our recruitment team about becoming a carer with our agency.
This is why we introduced our new Drop-In Advice days. One day a month, you can book a 45 minute slot with our Recruitment Social Workers, Cheryl and Douglas, who’ll explain more about Team Fostering and what we offer, chat through what we look for in our prospective foster carers, and answer any questions you might have about becoming a foster carer with Team Fostering. It can be a phone or a video call, and offers the perfect opportunity to find out whether fostering is the right thing for you to explore right now.
It’s really easy to book – just visit our booking page here select your chosen time and scroll down to leave us your contact details. One of our Recruitment Team will get in touch to confirm who your appointment will be with, and whether you’d prefer a phone or video call with us. And then that’s it until Cheryl or Douglas gives you a call!
Our upcoming Drop-In days take place next week on Tuesday 14th July, and then again on Tuesday 11th August.
If you can’t make it to our Drop In sessions, don’t forget you can contact us to learn more about becoming a foster carer in one of the following ways:
Member News: Barnardo's - Locked down and locked out - vulnerable children missing out on vital support due to COVID-19
Lockdown has isolated vulnerable children and young people from services and means they are missing out on vital support, Barnardo’s frontline workers say.
In the biggest ever survey of the leading children’s charity’s services’ practitioners, respondents said that fewer children and young people were being referred into services, despite increasing need.
Now Barnardo’s is calling on professionals to refer vulnerable children and young people to the new See, Hear, Respond service funded by the Department for Education.
Through the DfE’s new See, Hear, Respond programme, Barnardo’s is leading a ‘coalition of charities’ across England to provide much-needed support to children who are falling through the cracks; which includes children who have no social worker and have not been identified as vulnerable by authorities. The coalition, made up of local and national charities, will work together to expand its reach and help vulnerable children most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with online counselling, therapy and face-to-face support.
This includes children and young people who are being criminally exploited, victims of sexual and domestic abuse, those struggling with their mental health, children with disabilities and those who are carers to other family members. These young people desperately need help, but the lack of exposure to professionals means they are going unnoticed and unsupported.
But the coalition needs the help of professionals working with children to drive referrals and ensure children and young people get the support they need throughout the crisis.
Nearly half (45%) of Barnardo’s front line workers who reported a change in their safeguarding caseload in the charity’s practitioners’ survey, said they had seen a decrease in referrals to their services.
The biggest concern reported by Barnardo’s practitioners in the survey was that children and young people are not being physically seen by professionals. Increased mental health and wellbeing issues was the next biggest concern, followed by increased risk of domestic abuse.
Frontline workers also reported that lockdown has resulted in vulnerable children and young people being turned away from the support they are entitled to and desperately need, with 8% saying this had happened to a child or young person they are working with.
More than a quarter (28%) of front line workers who said what needed to be done to mitigate safeguarding risks said there needed to be continued or better partnership working among professionals.
Lockdown, and school closures have meant professionals including teachers, social workers and health workers have had less contact with children.
While children are less visible to professionals the most vulnerable are facing increasing danger with many locked down with families facing growing economic and emotional pressure and cut off from the usual support systems.
Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. These pressures will likely impact more families as the crisis continues.
And the coronavirus pandemic means even more children could experience traumatic events which could affect their mental health as more families are plunged into poverty, domestic abuse rises and more children suffer bereavement.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic children are more likely to be carers for ill or disabled family members and are more likely to suffer bereavement as the virus disproportionately affects people of colour.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has meant that vulnerable children and young people are ‘hidden’ from vital support services. Many have been suffering in silence, struggling with mental health problems or abuse at home, by gangs or online.
“That’s why Barnardo’s is leading a consortium of charities from across England, with support from the Department for Education, to identify and support children at risk of harm.
“But for this to work, we need both professionals - and anyone in contact with vulnerable children - to be our eyes and ears and refer children in need of help.
“Children have too often been unseen and unheard during this crisis and they risk becoming the forgotten victims. This initiative is a vital lifeline for the hundreds of thousands of children and young people as we navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, helping to improve their long-term outcomes so they can have successful futures.”
For more information or to make a referral to the See, Hear and Respond service, visit: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/see-hear-respond
We’re thrilled to be able to allocate our charitable fund to The Spark Foundation, a charity that offers grants to children in care and care leavers.
We wanted to choose a charity that not only aligned with our values, ethics and approaches, but would also enable us to help care-experienced children on a national scale.
The Spark Foundation aims to give young people in care and care leavers the same chances as everyone else. They do this by providing one-off grants, giving young people a helping hand when they most need it.
Sam Ram, FCC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Spark Foundation are offering a lifeline to young care leavers who may not have any one else to turn to. We know what a huge, and in some cases life-changing, difference these grants make to the lives of young care leavers. It is with great pleasure that we are able to assist the foundation in their excellent work.”
You can read some of the thank you letters and notes received by Spark here.
To make a donation to The Spark Foundation, click here.
At The Foster Care Co-operative (FCC) we remain committed in supporting our children, current foster carers and anyone who may be interested in fostering in the future. This means that despite the current lockdown measures, FCC’s wealth of knowledge and experience is still here for you!
We moved to working from home for all staff members to prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus. Despite recent lockdown easing announced by our Prime Minister, we are continuing to work from home at the current time. However, you can continue to reach us as normal on our central office telephone numbers and 24hr support remains in place at all times.
Now, more than ever in these uncertain times, we need your help. Children are in desperate need of care. You could make a real difference to a child’s life.
New foster carer enquires and applications, are very welcome and the following steps are in place:
Additionally, as applications can take between six and eight months, now is a great time to apply.
Why not make a no-obligation enquiry HERE to see if you qualify?
At Team Fostering, we recruit and train foster carers that are able to look after a range of children and young people, including young people who have recently had their own children.
This is a specialist type of fostering referred to across the industry as 'Parent and Child Fostering,' the aim of which is to provide support and guidance not only to the infant but also the parent, usually the mother. The aim is that the parent may eventually provide independent care for their child. Parent and Child Fostering is an alternative to referring young parents to live in residential units and it helps to provide the support needed at the early stages of their relationship, a very crucial time for bonding. Without this support, such relationships can often break down and this could lead to the separation of the child from the parent.
The Benefits of Parent and Child Fostering
Fostering a parent and child is not an easy task, but the rewards are huge and we have many foster carers at Team Fostering with specialist training for the role. Foster carers can help the development of a bond between parent and child, giving both a brighter future, and to see an attachment grow first-hand has been described by our foster carers as nothing short of amazing. Throughout Parent and Child Fostering, carers offer support that provides young parents with insight into the lifelong parenting skills required for looking after a child independently. This is done in a stable environment that helps keep focus on the child, with access to valuable resources that may not have been available without the fostering setup.
In turn, the child of the young person benefits from extra support received by all, providing them with the best start in life.
As Team Fostering consider Parent and Child Fostering to be a specialist role we provide a slightly different support package for those who offer this. A higher level of one-to-one support and training will be provided to any foster carers that look after a parent and child, and higher foster carer fees are paid in comparison to some other types of fostering.
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency operating across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. We have strong, ethical values and behaviours and continually look to welcome new foster carers to the team. Read our eligibility criteria by clicking here.
If you're interested in learning more about fostering, you can get in touch in one of the following ways:
call us on 0800 292 2003
send an online enquiry by clicking here
email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Our offices are in North Tyneside, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Sheffield and South Normanton.
At FCC, we have always prided ourselves on being diverse and inclusive, where all our members are treated fairly and equally – regardless of ethnicity, religious belief, gender or sexual preference.
Our article, entitled Fostering Diversity and Inclusion, details why we need diverse foster carers to come forward to care for vulnerable children.
We’re also undertaking racism, discrimination and intolerance training on an agency-wide scale. This means that all staff, foster carers, panel members and board members will complete this training – which has a specific focus on young people within the care system, and the effects that any kind of discrimination can have on them.
Many of our members work directly with children, so would already be equipped with the skills and experience to identify, manage, and take the appropriate actions if confronted with any racism, discrimination and intolerance. However, at FCC we felt it was important for all our members to undergo this training.
Member News: Barnardo’s declares ‘state of emergency’ as number of children needing foster care during Coronavirus pandemic rises by 44%
The number of children needing foster care has risen by 44% during the coronavirus pandemic while the number of people looking to become foster parents plummeted by nearly half compared to the same period last year, according to the UK’s leading children’s charity.
From March 1st - April 23rd 2020, there were 2,349 referrals to Barnardo’s fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a figure which shot up from 1,629 for the same period in 2019. Meanwhile the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity fell from 302 to 161 - a dramatic 47% drop.
Barnardo’s says this has created a ‘state of emergency’ as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect wait for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to Barnardo’s will not be placed with a family.
The UK’s leading children’s charity believes that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has increased pressure on vulnerable families, with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health all leading to family breakdown. Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. These pressures will likely impact more families as the crisis continues.
At the same time Barnardo’s believes that the change in circumstances experienced by many because of COVID-19 and uncertainty about the future has resulted in a drop in enquiries being made to the charity from people looking to foster.
Barnardo’s is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to get in touch and consider fostering a child. Barnardo’s welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including single people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
The charity also wants to make it clear that foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo’s, and will also be eligible for financial support including carers’ allowance.
To find out more about fostering with Barnardo’s, go to https://www.barnardos.org.uk/foster or call 07712402312 or 0800 0277 280.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“The Coronavirus pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest, with many reaching crisis point. This has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family, while fewer adults are coming forward as potential foster carers.
“Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience bringing vulnerable children together with loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. If you become a foster carer with Barnardo’s we will support you every step of the way with training and a dedicated social worker. You’ll also receive financial support, including a carer’s allowance.
“Today, there are hundreds of children who have been referred to Barnardo’s and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. If you’re over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today.”
Nichol Garcia is 50 and has been a full-time foster carer for the past nine years. She lives in Nottingham with her teenage son and three foster children.
Nichol says: “I felt I had space in my heart and life for more children, and after talking to my family and most importantly, my son, I got in touch with Barnardo’s and have not regretted it since. I’ve done so many different things in my life, but foster caring is by far the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Over the past nine years, Nichol and her son have fostered 11 young people, mainly teenagers but also younger children, most of whom have stayed with them for long periods of time.
“I was worried I would feel upset when the children left, as I invest so much into each child, but we keep in touch with all of them as they are a part of our family now and we sometimes meet up too. I am a part of their history and they are a part of mine.”
Nichol acknowledges that fostering has its share of challenges too.
She says: “Sometimes children may have had difficult experiences and need additional support such as therapy to help them make sense of what they’ve been through, and it’s important for foster carers to support them with this. I really fight for all of my foster children and young people to get them what they deserve.”
Nichol believes that the constant support and ongoing training offered by Barnardo’s has enabled her to deal with any difficult periods.
“My social worker from Barnardo’s is like a professional friend,” Nichol says. “I meet with her regularly, but if I ever need any advice or support, day or night, there is always someone there to give me everything I need. There is always lots of different training on offer too, and I go on several courses each year.
“Before you are approved to foster, Barnardo’s does some really intense training to ensure potential foster carers are fully aware of what they may experience. They don’t just have the child’s best interests at heart, but also the foster carer’s too.”
Nichol’s advice to anyone who is considering fostering is this: “If you go into foster caring for the wrong reasons, you won’t last long. It’s not always easy, but it is the most rewarding thing you can ever do. For those who already have their own children and may be worried about whether fostering is the right decision for them, in my experience, by keeping my child involved every step of the way, he loves it just as much as I do and we wouldn’t have it any other way now.
“Some of my favourite times are when we all sit outside together chatting around the log burner and I feel really lucky to have them all and love seeing them so happy.”
Notes to Editors
Data shows the number of fostering referrals and enquiries to Barnardo’s from people looking to become foster carers from March 1 - April 23 in 2019 and 2020 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland only.
Last year around 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.
We work to change the lives of vulnerable children in the UK and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.
Member News: Action for Children - ‘However challenging it is now, it won’t be nearly as challenging as when we start recovering’. The impact of Coronavirus on early help for children, young people, and families.
This was the warning Action for Children and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) were given by a headteacher, while carrying out research for our new report.
With coronavirus impacting almost all areas of life, we wanted to learn how the virus had affected early help services. These include children’s centres, parenting support and early mental health support. We also wanted to understand the concerns of practitioners involved in delivering it. To do this, we carried out 28 interviews with heads of early help services, lead practitioners, and headteachers across England.
Action for Children’s Recommendations
We are calling on the government to urgently respond to the crisis, and prioritise support that helps children early.
The government must:
Local authorities and their partners:
With so many children likely to need support as the country recovers from coronavirus, it is important that their needs are not forgotten. The government must act to ensure that vulnerable children can get the right support early, before problems have the chance spiral out of control.
 EIF is an independent charity established in 2013 to champion and support the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children and young people at risk of experiencing poor outcomes.
 Early help refers to support for children who do not meet the threshold to receive statutory help, i.e. they are not a child in need or at risk of harm. Support is delivered by a range of organisations and could include family or parenting programmes, and help for families affected by substance misuse problems and domestic abuse.
You can read the full report to find out more
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