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Fostering Experiences: Useful Training With No Tests

This post – about the training and career development you get as a foster carer – is the second in our Fostering Experiences series. The series turns the spotlight on situations you’re likely to encounter as a foster carer, and provides insight and advice about them.

Foster carers come from all kinds of backgrounds. Many have no formal qualifications, and many don’t have experience working with children. Whatever your background, we are here to support you professionally, both before and after you’re approved as a foster carer.

The training is nothing to be worried or anxious about. There are no exams or essays or grades. We want you to succeed in the most rewarding job you’ll ever have.

Pre-approval training

When you start the process of becoming a foster carer, you take The Skills to Foster training course for prospective carers. It’s an introductory course to becoming a foster carer and helps you to prepare for the assessment process and the fostering journey.

The training takes place over 3 days, and focuses on the practical, day-to-day skills that foster carer’s need. You won’t need to take notes or write essays. We encourage you to participate and ask questions: it’s focused around group discussions and is led by experienced social workers.

During the training you will explore the role of the foster carer, the reasons that children may come into care, and the support they need. You will discuss how foster carers can help promote positive identities, and you will learn day-to-day strategies for the challenges you will face. This includes topics such as how to build relationships, effectively set boundaries, manage transitions and promote good behaviour.

Post-approval training: Your first year

Once you’re approved as a foster carer, you continue to get support and training. You work together with your assigned supervising social worker in the first year to complete the Training, Support and Developmental Standards (TSD) course .

 

You and your social worker create an individual development plan tailored to you. We identify what skills you already have and where you can enhance your skills. You work one-on-one with your social worker, typically in monthly sessions, and also attend group workshops.

You can also take training modules online, giving you the flexibility to study whenever and wherever you want. The courses are based on the experiences you have a foster carer and are easy to understand, interactive and engaging.

Further training

After the first year, you can choose to work towards formal qualifications, like the NVQ in Health and Social Care. The TSD is mapped against the NVQ modules, so you build upon what you have already studied and learned.

We also support and encourage foster carers who want to achieve other nationally recognised qualifications in care-related subjects. For many, these lead to careers in related areas like social care, teaching or nursing.

Working with other foster carers as a team and supporting each other

You also learn lots from other foster carers, and we pride ourselves on the team spirit among.

We organise a buddy and mentoring scheme that matches new foster carers with more experienced foster carers. It’s a two-way learning process: you learn from them as much as they learn from you. You also have the opportunity to learn from other carers’ experiences at Perpetual’s monthly Fostering Forum.

With you every step of the way

As with any career, you learn a great deal as you work with and care for the young person. And we’re always here to answer any questions you have, and you can call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for guidance and advice. We’re here to support you in what is a really fulfilling career for people who want to make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Shrove Tuesday, the Christian festival marking the start of Lent, is often referred to as Pancake Day here in the UK. Although it represents the last day for Christians to eat luxurious foods, children all over the country, whether they celebrate Easter or not, will be looking forward to pancakes. This year, Shrove Tuesday falls on Tuesday 28th February!

Whilst eating pancakes on Pancake Day is a great treat for kids, we’ve found a few variations of the traditional Pancake recipe to promote healthier eating habits!

The Classic Pancake

Eating pancakes might not be a regular occurrence in your household, so you and your kids might want to stick to traditional English pancakes. But instead of the typical Nutella topping or the traditional lemon and sugar, you might want to try a healthier option? Cover your pancakes with lots of fruit (easy way to add to your 5-a-day) and a few teaspoons of organic maple syrup for a sweeter pancake without the unhealthy refined sugars!

Want a recipe? Click here.

The Oat Pancake

A healthy variation to the traditional pancake recipe is substituting the flour used for ground oats! Oats are incredibly nutritious, packed with fibre and they taste great in pancakes. The substitution is unlikely to change the overall taste of the pancakes, so the kids won’t know the difference! Again, for an even healthier recipe, top your oat pancakes with fruit and organic maple syrup!

Find a recipe here, or simply substitute flour for oats in the classic pancake recipe!

The Banana Pancake

Popular with many health advocates, pancakes made using bananas in the batter are a great way to create an even healthier recipe. They can get you one step closer to your five-a-day and they’re a great idea if your kids aren’t keen on topping their pancakes with fruit. Since Pancake Day is all about final indulgence, maybe you could treat your kids to banana pancakes topped with a teaspoon of nutella!

Find a helpful Jamie Oliver recipe here!

Whatever you choose to make on Pancake Day, we hope your kids enjoy!

Understanding how to communicate with teenagers is a skill most parents learn as they go along. It is arguably even more difficult to grasp when the teenager is a foster child who perhaps hasn’t had the best experience communicating with adults.

Foster parents should understand that in any conversation there are two roles – the listener and the speaker. For good communication you need to swap over the role of listener and speaker constantly. It also needs to be the right time, not when one of you is busy doing something else, or angry, or upset.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your communication with your teenager is as effective as possible:

Think about the conversation you want to have

If you want to communicate with your teenager, it’s important to think about what you really want to say and choose your moment. If you want to tell them how fed up you are about something, having that conversation when they are tired or fed up, or already in a mood, will only lead to arguments. If you just want a chat, doing so when they are in the middle of homework due in tomorrow will probably annoy them. Consider the purposes of the following types of conversations.

To organise something – if you’re trying to organise something or check out an arrangement. It can take just a few minutes and it is something than can interrupt other issues, or be done as people are about to leave or have just got home. Make it clear that it will only take a short time to discuss and keep to that boundary.

Bonding – bonding conversations can be short and sweet or long and involved. They can need time and space with a cup of coffee to allow you both quality time to talk and listen, and enjoy each other’s company. You can also have these kind of conversations while washing up, or on a car journey. Communication that bonds you together can give your teen a chance to open up and tell you important things about themselves and their lives. The important aspect is that you need to seize the opportunity when it arises. If you’re always too busy or have other important things to do when your teenager approaches you, you may miss the opportunity. And if there are too many missed opportunities, the window closes.

Just a chat – a chat can be long or short, trivial or have hidden nuggets of important information. Just chatting with your teenager can be as much fun as chatting to a friend, and has as much hidden importance. Chat and gossip can help to bring you together just as much as a bonding conversation.

We hope this helps you tackle conversations with your teenager; for more information and tips, click here to read the original article.

Keeping children occupied for an entire week can be a difficult task for parents. With February half term around the corner, we’ve gathered a few activities that could be useful or just inspirational at the least!

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

A great museum filled with everything to do with science and technology that will surely keep the children entertained for the day. Plus, this half term, step back in time and experience the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian Manchester with the museum’s family friendly holiday programme. See the power of steam with Engine Demonstrations, join the Cotton Mill Circus and light up your day with the Magic Lanterns.

For more details, click here.

Rock Over Climbing, Manchester

If your children are climbing the walls in the holidays, or even over the weekend, then take them to Rock Over Climbing. The Adventure Climbing Zone will have children clipped and ready to go with trained instructors on hand to guide them every step of the way. No experience necessary! If you want to work your way up to ropes and harnesses, try bouldering with no scary heights or equipment, just plenty of opportunity to let your little monkeys climb and swing free.

To Book now, click here.

The Sherlock Holmes Experience, Madame Tussauds, London

The Sherlock Holmes Experience will challenge you to unleash your inner Sherlock as you enter the mysterious world of the fictional detective in a live walk through adventure. The experience is totally interactive and visually astonishing with texture theatrical sets laden with detail, hidden clues and special effects. Access to the experience is included with the standard ticket price.

To start the adventure, click here.

Smithy Farm, Preston

With various animal attractions, which include alpacas, goats, miniature ponies, giant rabbits and different breeds of poultry, Smithy Farm has lots to keep children busy. There’s a children’s play area and a brilliant farm shop that sells a range of products.

For more info, click here.

Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool

This is another outdoor attraction with loads of fun for the family. The zoo is situated in 32 acres of spacious, mature parkland with lakes, waterfalls and traditional English woodland. There’s a range of animals, including creepy crawlys, monkeys and kangaroos, so there really is something for everyone at Blackpool Zoo.

To plan your day, click here.

We hope your children have a fun filled half term whatever they do!

The ability to motivate a child is one of the many skills you’ll develop as a foster carer. It gives the child drive and confidence to help them achieve their goals and overcome their difficulties – not just while they’re in your home, but as they grow and develop into adults.

When we talk about motivating children, we’re generally referring to three main areas, all of which are covered in this post:

  • Education – Having the drive to do their best work at school
  • Changing negative behaviour – And recognising the need to do so
  • Trying new activities – Going outside their comfort zone is incredibly beneficial

Motivate with praise and empathy

As a foster carer, your first priority is to provide basic care. The child needs to feel safe and secure in your home before you attempt to start motivating them in any of the other areas.

However, once these strong foundations are in place, the time’s right to begin to build the child’s self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. Motivation is a key part of this process and – whether your aim is to encourage them to work harder or to stop damaging behaviour – you’ll be more successful when you:

  • Praise the child for their progress and effort
  • Show empathy with their situation

Remember, no one is motivated to do things if they feel worthless; motivation and self-esteem are inextricably linked. Children who believe in themselves will naturally be more motivated in all areas of their lives.

Motivate by being a role model

Children observe, learn and often copy behaviour from those around them. As a result, you – and everyone else in your household – have a real opportunity to motivate the child by acting as a positive role model.

Obviously there are practical limitations; you can’t spend every day rock climbing or participating in a theatre production. However, if the child never witnesses you taking chances or trying new things, they’re far less likely to heed your encouragement to do the same.

If you’re willing to try things outside your comfort zone, you’ll spark an interest and make activities become appealing.

It’s important to recognise that you need to motivate for the short and long term. Don’t expect immediate success. Suggest a variety of activities, don’t force the issue and always listen to what the child enjoys.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to guarantee success. What’s overstimulating for one person is super exciting for another, so use your knowledge and understanding of the child to inform your efforts.

Motivate by setting targets and rewards

Targets and rewards are great motivators, especially when it comes to educational goals and achievements. Star charts can be very effective, even for teenagers. They work because the child or young person can see the progress they’re making on a day-to-day basis.

So, for example, if the child goes to school every day, they get a reward at the end of the week, month or term.

However, you need to be careful that the child isn’t motivated purely for the reward itself, but rather recognises the value of what they’re trying to achieve. It’s a delicate balancing act and often involves treading a fine line.

Ultimately, it’s important the child is engaged with their goal. That way, they’ll recognise the feeling of succeeding and gain a real sense of achievement when they get there. Once the reward and that buzz of success become interlinked, the child will begin to self-motivate. In other words, the feeling becomes the reward.

Motivate by helping the child recognise patterns

Another effective way of motivating a child – particularly when it comes to changing negative patterns of behaviour – is by helping them recognise their negative behaviour and take steps to change it.

Used by social workers and foster carers for over 20 years, Prochaska and DiClemente’s Cycle of Change model is based on the theory that individuals move through the following stages when attempting to stop unhealthy patterns of behaviour:

  1. Pre-contemplation – Not acknowledging that there needs to be a change
  2. Contemplation – Recognising there’s a problem but not committing to change
  3. Preparation – Getting ready to make a change
  4. Action – Changing behaviour
  5. Maintenance – Sustaining the change, with new behaviour replacing the old

Relapses are entirely normal, and that’s where the child goes back to the contemplation or pre-contemplation stage. It’s human nature is to follow the cycle, and every time the child makes it to the end they’ve made a huge achievement.

So look at the patterns with the child to see if it’s working – and encourage them to persevere. When doing so, make sure you emphasise progress and praise the child. Just saying ‘work harder!’ won’t have the right effect.

Make motivation a collective goal and responsibility

And that applies to self-motivation as well!

Sometimes foster carers feel that they’ve ‘tried everything’ without anything changing. But then you step back and see you’ve actually made progress.

Ultimately, motivation isn’t an individual aspiration or responsibility. Your whole household is part of it. When everyone is joined up and shares in the triumph, everyone gets something out of it. And that’s when you’ll find yourself becoming more motivated, even as you motivate the child.

Fostering Videos

Last Christmas, staff members at Perpetual Fostering all donned a festive jumper and donated money to Save the Children for Christmas Jumper Day. Having raised a total of £58.57, we think it’s a good idea to look back at Save the Children and remember what our money was raised for.

We all very much enjoyed wearing a silly Christmas jumper, but there was a serious side: the money raised helped save children’s lives. Save the Children ensure that the money raised goes to brilliant causes; for example, the money provides essentials like healthcare, education, protection and food to the millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support.

Every year, millions of children around the world die before their fifth birthday from easily preventable diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Many more are forgotten simply because they were born in the wrong place, or because they are girls, refugees, disabled or from a minority. Supporting Save the Children and giving donations will help them to achieve their goal of giving every child the chance to grow up healthy and happy.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to those who supported our cause and donated money. Each £2 donated will surely have gone a long way.

Type ‘fostering’ into a Google search and the top results will be to local authority or government websites.

However, independent fostering agencies (IFAs) – agencies like Perpetual – also fulfil an important role, working in conjunction with local authorities to place children in loving, nurturing environments and working together to refine and develop the child’s care plan.

And not just because local authorities on their own don’t have enough foster carers to look after all the children taken into care. It’s also due to the fact that children often have specialist needs and require particular skillsets – those developed by IFAs like us – to give them the right support.

Whether you’re a new to foster care or an existing carer considering transferring, read on to learn about what you’ll get when you foster with Perpetual.

Benefit from our community spirit and round-the-clock support

When you join the Perpetual community, we make a promise to you. We tell you that we’ll be with you every step of the way. And we stand by our pledge.

Fostering is a wonderfully rewarding career, but we know that there are times that you’ll feel challenged or unsure of the best course of action. When you foster with us, you never have to cope on your own.

  • Get support from an experienced carer with our buddy and mentoring scheme
  • Your supervising social worker delivers guidance, advice and reassurance
  • Contact a senior social worker by telephone, 24/7, whenever you need help or support
  • Get 2 weeks’ paid respite every year, and regular breaks at other times
  • Share your experiences with other carers at our monthly fostering forums

Our community has an open, supportive spirit and is one of the most successful in the UK

Nurture and develop your talent with our training

Regardless of whether you carry out your training with us or with your local authority, you’ll go through the same approval process. However, we provide additional support throughout and assist with your professional development ongoing.

  • When you start the process of becoming a foster carer, you take the brilliant 3-day The Skills to Foster™training course, run by The Fostering Network
  • However, if you need additional training before going before the approval panel, we can arrange a bespoke programme for you
  • Post approval, you and your social working create a development plan, and we help with any relevant training to enhance your skills
  • The more skills and experience you gain, the higher the payment you’re eligible for

Discover generous reward payments in addition to weekly allowance

All foster carers receive weekly payments. While these payments are complex, they include an allowance for the expense of bringing up the child, as well as an additional reward payment.

The first part of the payment is a fee set by the government, paid to all foster carers. However, the second payment varies, depending on:

  • Your skills and experience
  • Who you foster with

While local authority payments vary, you’ll generally receive more generous payments when you foster through an IFA like Perpetual. What’s more, you’ll have the peace of mind and confidence that comes from the comprehensive support we provide.

Make the transfer seamless for you and the fostered child

If you’re already a carer and thinking about transferring, we recognise just what a big decision it is. We’re here for you at every stage, ensuring that everything goes smoothly for you, and that the child in your care is unaffected.

We follow The Fostering Network’s official Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol (read more about this here). Its primary goal is to ensure continuity for the child, and to make the transfer as fast as possible.

Ultimately – whether you’re starting your journey or transferring from elsewhere – we understand that every day is different and bring its own challenges. Whatever your background, Perpetual delivers the emotional and the financial support you need to thrive.

 https://perpetualfostering.co.uk/fostering-guides/free-guide-to-what-foster-carers-get-paid/

A number of football teams, made up of young girls, have been recognised by the Bolton News for playing skilfully and to a high standard in recent friendly matches.

Here at Perpetual Fostering, we would like to offer huge congratulations to the Tiki Taka Football Academy Under-10s Girls’ team!

Perpetual Fostering sponsor the team, and we are very proud of the girls for being featured in the article. It is great to see young football players being recognised, not just for winning games, but for their outstanding skills and commitment to the sport.

The Tiki Taka Under-10s are part of the Bolton, Bury and District Football League (BBDFL), where all of the teams have a current focus ‘on young players simply enjoying their football, developing their skills and being part of a team’.

Well done girls! Keep it up!

To read the article, please click here.

Welcoming your foster child into your home isn’t going to be as easy as simply opening your door. You need to treat him like any other child but also consider the trauma he’s experienced. Your foster child may immediately embrace you, it may take time for him to warm up or he may never show how he feels at all. Every foster child’s reaction is going to be different. What may seem like a warm welcome to you could be a stressful situation to him. There are going to be times when it feels like making your foster child feel at home is a delicate balancing act. You need to step back, view it from his perspective and try to be flexible and understanding.

Your foster child’s first impression of his new home will likely form a lasting memory, so it’s important that you have as much as possible ready for his arrival. Even if it’s an emergency placement, there are simple things you can do to make the transition easier for him. While making your foster child feel at home may seem like a daunting task, it’s the little things you do that can make all the difference.

Making Your Foster Child Feel at Home

The Initial Meeting: When he arrives at your house, come out smiling and be one of the first welcoming faces he sees that day. Kneeling down to his eye level before introducing yourself will make you seem less intimidating and may ease some of the tension.

When walking him to your home, see if he’s open to you holding his hand if he’s younger, or placing your hand on his shoulder if he’s older, to start forming a bond and provide some much needed reassurance. If you notice that he seems hesitant or anxious, err on the side of caution and avoid making this day any more uncomfortable for him.

The Tour: Show him around the house. If you have other children, let them join you on the tour to help them start bonding. Explain to him that he shouldn’t feeling uncomfortable using different things around the house, such as the TV or computer, because he’s now part of your family. Doing so will give him a sense of belonging, which may be a first for him.

The Room: End the tour of the house with his room. If you have enough notice, you can ask his caseworker what your foster child likes so you can have it waiting for him, such as a poster of his favourite football team or a book he enjoys. You may also want to have a few new toys for him to play with. Let him know that you can help him rearrange his room if he would like.

The Basket: Preparing a welcome basket can be a nice surprise for your foster child on what’s likely an upsetting and scary day. You can fill the basket with new clothes, a blanket, toys, books and other things that interest him. Not only will a welcome basket show him that you care, but also that he’s worth getting a gift.

The Food: Put some cookies in the oven to fill your house with a welcoming scent. Once your family has greeted your foster child, put a pizza in the oven for him to eat after the tour. For dinner, find out what his favourite meal is and plan to make that in the future to create a greater sense of home.

The Ice Breaker: Once he’s had time to eat and get settled, you can gauge his feelings and see if he’s open to talking to you. If he’s willing to talk, you can start by asking questions to show that you’re truly interested in him, like asking if there’s anything you can do to make his room more comfortable. Let him know that if he ever has any questions he can feel comfortable coming to you. All of this will work towards building a bond. However, don’t think you did something wrong if he doesn’t want to talk. It’s likely been a very difficult day for him and he has a lot to process.

Some of these points may seem too commonplace to make that much of a difference, but to your foster child, who’s coming from a situation that was anything but normal, they will. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem like he appreciates all that you’re doing. It may take him a few days, weeks, or even months to warm up to you as he adjusts, but with time and your love, he’ll start to feel less like an outsider and more like a member of the family.

For the original post, click here.

They say that music is a universal language. Regardless of where you are from or what your background, a good melody is something that everyone can enjoy and understand. For children, music provides many, many benefits. Experts agree there are lots of good things about letting your child learn to play an instrument.

Everyone who tuned into The Voice UK last Saturday was stunned by the show-stopping performance by Mo Adeniran. The 21-year-old singer revealed that he had grown up in foster care, and music had helped him to better interpret his feelings when he was young and didn’t quite understand what was going on. He said that he enjoyed listening to music that was filled with ‘so much hope and happiness’. Mo also described music as the feeling of a parent – ‘the comfort of a mother and the motivation of a father.’

If this isn’t enough to encourage your foster child to pick up a musical instrument, here are 10 reasons that might.

  1. It will boost their brain power

Studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music.

  1. It will improve their memory

Help your kids remember more (and learn more) with music. Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development. 

  1. It helps them socially

Being part of a musical group can teach kids to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together. 

  1. It’s a confidence builder

Children can discover that they can develop a skill by themselves, that they can get better and better. It’s sure to build their confidence! 

  1. It teaches patience

Real life demands patience. When playing in a band or orchestra, you have to be willing to wait your turn to play otherwise the sound is a mess. This inadvertently teaches patience. 

  1. It can help them connect

Music can be a much-needed connection for kids to unwind from the worries of life. 

  1. It’s constant learning

Music is inexhaustible – there is always more to learn! 

  1. It’s a great form of expression

Music can give kids the ability to express nuances of emotional life for which there are no words. 

  1. It teaches discipline

Commitment to a music group, attending lessons and regular practicing can all teach children discipline. 

  1. It fosters creativity

Above all, playing music – particularly as kids get to more advanced levels in it – is a creative pursuit. Creativity is good for the mind, body and soul.

For more on this topic click here.

The Voice UK continues on ITV1 Saturday at 8pm.

To hear Mo Adeniran’s audition, click here.