Fostering Skills Spotlight: Resourcefulness & Creativity
As a foster carer, being resourceful and creative is about finding ways to encourage young people and expand their horizons. When we talk about being resourceful and creative, we’re not talking about being Bear Grylls and Leonardo da Vinci rolled into one.
(For starters, I am not an outdoorsy person, and my artistic talent is basically stick people.)
As a foster carer, being resourceful and creative is about finding ways to encourage young people and expand their horizons. And there are infinite ways to do this.
Here are 5 examples.
- Making young people feel welcome
A welcome book is a wonderful way to do this. We give it to the young person before they come to you, so they feel comfortable and less anxious about the placement.
The books usually have photos of family members, pets, the house and the young person’s new bedroom. (We help you put it together if you like.)
It’s a wonderful opportunity to be creative. Let’s say you know the young person likes a particular football team. If you hang posters of that team on the bedroom walls and include a photo of the room in the book, the child feels special and welcome.
- Motivating young people
Remember reward charts?
You think of them as being for young children, but we’ve also seen countless teenagers excited about making them and planning the reward.
Reward and praise reinforce good behaviour, and the more ways you do this, the more young people flourish.
- Introducing young people to new activities and interests
Your enthusiasm can be infectious.
Even if the young person isn’t interested in gardening, reading, rugby, Britain’s Got Talent, horse riding, music (or whatever!), introduce them to it.
These new experiences give them more opportunities to enjoy childhood, and that’s a crucial part of your role.
- Helping manage difficulties
One of the most important lessons you can teach is how to manage challenging circumstances constructively. This is a combined effort involving you, the supervising social worker and the other teachers and professionals involved in the young person’s care.
Foster carers have so many creative ways of helping with this.
For example, one boy loved go-karting. The foster parent took videos of him go-karting and put together a DVD montage. When the child was frustrated or in a bad mood, he’d put on the DVD. Seeing himself having fun – doing something he excelled at – helped him manage his negative emotions in a healthy way.
- Knowing when to ask for help
As a foster carer, you’re part of a team. There are so many resources available to you, and all you have to do is ask.
So if you have questions about something the young person said, an idea for an activity or a concern about a new school friend, give us a ring (night or day). A specialist is always there to help.
…And remember: use your experience and trust your judgement
Resourcefulness and creativity are different from person to person.
One reason foster carers are so interesting is that everyone has a different background (you’ll notice this when you start attending regular carer meet-ups).
All your past experiences – whether it’s as a parent to your own children, in your personal life or in your career – have shaped your approach. And the ability to think creatively in your own way will make a big difference to a child’s life.
To learn more about what’s involved in becoming a foster carer, download our new Step-by-Step Guide to the Foster Carer Assessment process.