Friday, April 13, 2018

Fostering 'L' ..... A - Z Blog Challenge



As Jeff and I have been foster carers for 3 years this month it seemed the right time to have Fostering as a topic for the A-Z. We're still new enough that we're not jaded yet, but have had a pretty bumpy ride, so fairly realistic in what fostering is really about.

Further information at The Fostering Network



L IS FOR:
LAC Reviews - Looked after Children have regular statutory reviews. These can take a number of formats, sometimes birth parents will be present, sometimes the children may attend all or part. But the foster carer is always expected to be there. The IRO co-ordinates the meeting and ensures that the Care Plan is still fit for purpose, the child's needs are being met and if anything needs amending/adding going forward.
LADO - The LADO is the Local Area Designated Officer for Safeguarding. If an allegation is made against a person working with children (not just foster carers) then a report is sent to the LADO and he/she decides on any further course of action, if any.
Letter Box Contact - This is an arrangement that is usually made when a child moves on to adoption. Communication between the birth family and adoptive family can be overseen by a department that the letters go through. We used to use the system when Ella was little. They check both sides haven't actually given anything away about the child's new address, school etc. and the letters/photos go to a department who then forward it.
Life Story Work - While a child is in foster care social services work on a life story for them. This allows a child in later years to understand why they were looked after by social services. It also talks about their birth family so if they are adopted they have some knowledge of their early history. I enjoy the hobby of scrapbooking, so I like to make an album. Depending on the age of the child I may do a small book if it was respite for a week or two. For teens I tend to create a Photobox type album, drop the photos in and print it out as a complete album. But recently, for our first little one that went to adoption I made her a 'proper' scrapbook and you can see a few of the pages here. When we adopted Ella we had very little history so it's good to be able to provide more information.
Log Sheets - As mentioned before record keeping is essential for many reasons and one of the main ones are log sheets. As we do short term I tend to fill these in on a daily basis. Sometimes they can be really short if a child has been with you a while and settled, e.g. Breakfast, school, in on time, homework. But for children that are still settling in or anything out of the ordinary then they can be a lot, lot longer. Luckily I like to write so tend not to miss anything. Remember these records can be invaluable as they may be used in court, to look through as see the progress the child has made (when you're in the middle and living it, you don't always see the wood for the trees), or occasionally, they may be taken by social services to check if any allegation has been made about you.
Long Term Fostering - Sometimes the courts decide that a child needs to be kept in the foster care system for longer than the initial process (which alone takes a minimum of 26 weeks). This is called a long term placement and some foster carers are registered to care long term. Jeff and I never asked for that to be considered on our registration. With Ella we never knew how she would be and if we had to stop fostering we felt that would have been incredibly cruel to tell a child that they're going to stay with us for years and then six months later have to tell them they need to start again. I'm not saying breakdowns don't happen, but that's different, that's unplanned, unexpected, that's life getting in the way. But we knew that our circumstances could change so long term for us wasn't an option.

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Love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts below. Suzanne xx