Memory Books And Boxes
We love activities that involve both the foster carer and foster child – whether it’s outside play or baking chocolate chip cookies together inside the house, we wholeheartedly encourage activities that develop bonds and build healthy foster carer/foster child relationships.
One creative and special activity to consider is to start building a memory book or memory box together – a book or box that serves as a collection of memories that the foster child will gather during his or her time as part of your foster family. Helping to preserve a foster child’s own special memories will also help to build their confidence and self esteem.
A few different ideas of things to include could be:
- First photo of the child’s arrival into the foster care family
- Photos from celebrations such as birthdays, Christmases, etc
- Souvenirs or trinkets from fun summer holiday activities
- Photos of “firsts” – ticket stub from first cinema visit, first photo with Santa, first photo booth photos, and so on
- School reports, certificates, photos, accolades, etc
- Sport/swimming/football/dance certificates and medals
- Drawings/work/arts and crafts
And don’t forget to let your foster child decorate the book/box, so that they can add their personal stamp to it – paint, beads, feathers, glitter, foam shapes, fluffy balls, sequins, cut-out paper stars/shapes, anything works; just let them make it their own!
Children can add to the book/box or start a new one as time goes on, and regardless of how long a foster child may be with you, a memory book or box is a fun, visual, and thoughtful way to build up a bank of memories that, one day, your foster child will (hopefully) treasure and look back on with a smile.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to see your memory books or boxes – take a snap and tweet us @perpetualfoster, we’d be delighted to see all of your collective works! If you have ideas on activities that are fun, creative, and easy to do, please get in touch.
Have fun, be inspired, and let’s start creating!
It doesn’t matter what type of carer you are, we’ve all pressed the snooze button on our alarm clocks in the morning. That familiar buzzzzz cracks through the silence as the sunlight breaks in between the curtains …
Morning! Now, let’s get going.
Right foot, then left, on the ground and out of bed, unless of course you’re greeted by the furriest family member first, the beloved family dog! Speaking of which, you’ll probably need to feed him before you leave. It’s up and away from here onwards. You’re dressed and ready, with a cup of coffee to get the day started … time to wake the kids up. Out of their Batman and Princess Elsa PJs, they’ve finally mustered the energy to get into their school uniform. Ah, breakfast time.
After a cereal spill here and a grumble about burnt toast there, breakfast is done and dusted … out of the house and to school we go. School bag? Check. Lunch? Check. Homework? Uh oh. You’ll be having a chat about that later.
Some of us wish we had clones so we could be here, there and everywhere to get everything done on time, all the time. But fear not! Whether your start to the day is utterly chaotic or perfectly planned, worry not; you’re already doing a superhero’s job as an amazing carer so pat yourself on the back and simply put one foot in front of the other.
As part of Fostering Fortnight, we want to celebrate YOU, the foster carer – we’ve created Sammy, our wonderful foster child under the care of an incredible foster care superhero. Please share and spread the word – help us raise the flag for foster carers over your social channels, helping spread awareness among your friends, families, colleagues, and anyone else who might be interested in a career in fostering.
Join Perpetual Fostering today. We care so that you can.
As of March 31st 2014, 68,840 children were in the care of local authorities according to statistics from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). Records show that there are currently around 44,800 foster families in England, with a need to recruit an estimated 8,370 more foster families in the next 12 months in order to provide homes for children in care.
Becoming a foster carer is a rewarding experience for both you and a foster child. By choosing to foster, you’ll be able to make a profound difference in a child’s life and we’ll make sure to help you every step of the way.
We’re here to help you succeed, be the best, and find joy in your new role as a foster carer. Let us support you through your journey of becoming a foster carer with our professional support, high quality training, and foster care community.
We believe in the provision of safe, healthy environments through both short and long term placements, as well as in maintaining high quality care both for carers and foster children.
Whether your season as a foster carer is long or short, we believe in empowering you with valuable skills, knowledge, and experience so that you can be the very best. As an ambitious agency that seeks to change the lives of children and young adults, we believe in you and believe that, together, we can truly make a difference and impact these young lives for the better.
Start your fostering journey with Perpetual Fostering today. We care so that you can.
We’ve previously mentioned some of the things that matter most during the New Year for foster children, however we didn’t quite touch on everything: a major aspect we left out is going back to school!
So keep the following in mind and you’re already off to a great start:
You Decide The Bedtimes!
We’ve all been there: the earlier they learn, the better! Sleeping in late on weekdays is off the table now – at least until the next half term! Keeping them productive during their school day is the goal: sending them to bed early is the necessity. It goes without saying that all children need the right amount of sleep each and every night, without exception. If in doubt about what an age-range needs, just ask your social worker.
Clothes Make The Kid
Get them off to a flying start, by sending them to school in clothes they can be proud of. If that means mending parts of their uniform, or replacing anything that’s missing: you, as the legal guardian, are responsible for this – not the agency or school. And after all, that’s part of what the foster allowance is meant to cover.
Collaborate With Teachers
As every child is different, so are their educational and developmental requirements – and so is every teacher! On that note, the child’s teachers should already be aware of the fostering status, but it never hurts to check awareness. This is a great preventative measure to take against any potential slip-ups or misunderstandings which can be particularly sensitive for foster children in a new school.
Clarify Your Responsibilities
Last, but not least: you also don’t need to share absolutely every detail about your foster child with teachers. For example: they probably don’t need to know about the child’s background or birth parent situation. Again, if unsure, just ask your social worker what to share and what not to.
Remember, these are just a handful of suggestions – you could also volunteer at your foster child’s school, or get them involved in after-school activities, such as sports or anything else on offer. We’d also love to hear about any points we’ve missed out, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You could also check our frequently-asked questions.
Continuing the Christmas theme of our recent posts, we’d like to reflect on how foster children reward their carers at this time of year. When asked about the prospect of fostering, many people tend to focus on how their lives will be affected or changed; what they should really be focusing on is how they’ll be enriched by the experience.
In this post however, we know our audience is mostly made up of the enlightened – or at least the shortly-to-be enlightened – so this time we’re here to talk about the rewards foster children will bring you at Christmas time.
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
Opening your home to a foster child is just about the most charitable, generous thing you can choose to do. The amazing thing about all foster carers is that they help children in difficult situations have better, more comfortable and supported lives. As it is, these children haven’t caused the underlying problems facing their family, but are made to suffer the consequences regardless. Giving them some time off from this is an embodiment of the Christmas spirit.
How Your Own Child Benefits
If you have children of your own, you’re really giving them a leg up on understanding the world around them. They’ll be educated in all sorts of ways by the experience:
• they’ll learn how to be compassionate
• the importance of being generous
• how and when to be tolerant
• the value of the family unit
These are just some very brief ways foster children give back to their carers. This time in particular, we’d be really keen to hear what foster carers reading this think. What were your experiences of fostering during Christmas time? We’re all ears to your experiences, so please do share them with us! Drop us a line or give us a call – we’d love to chat.
On the 9th December, the Sunderland Echo gave their spotlight to a married couple who have truly been a backbone to their community, providing shelter for more than 100 children during their selfless careers.
Marie and Phil Mould – who raised five of their own children, with six grandchildren also in the picture – began their fostering journey in 1980 for Catholic Care. Eight years later they went on to become carers for Sunderland City Council, where they have stayed for the past 25 years.
Throughout this time of caring for so many children, they made a point of “helping each one move back to family members or onto an adoptive family” – a resounding success given the complexity of each and every foster placement.
The Echo cites Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s’ services: “Marie remembers her first placement from us well. A little boy who went on to be adopted by another family and is now a 25 year old electrician,
who still sends a Christmas card every year.” She continues: “it is because of carers such as Marie and Phil that children’s services are able to provide loving and safe environments to children … [without their efforts] we would not be able to protect some of society’s most vulnerable children”.
Marie explains her pride at “the career we’ve had in fostering”; that despite some difficult times, finding the joy in each and every child along the way made it all worthwhile: “It’s great when the children keep in touch – some are even sending us photos of their own children”.
The article also reveals that Marie’s caring career will not totally end with her retirement from fostering in her own home; she plans on continuing her training of adoptive parents, as well as on joining the Sunderland County panel to approve hopeful foster carers in future.
For our team at Perpetual Fostering, there’s no greater reward for our work than hearing that children successfully transition through placements, and ultimately through society at large. Hearing the glowing reports such as these proves the difference foster carers make to countless children’s lives, and that’s to say nothing of the passion Marie and Phil have shown through their work.
The Cumbria Women of the Year committee recently held its 25th annual presentation of the eponymous award. Earning her “countrywide recognition for [her] achievements” Doreen Beattie, a long-time resident of Kirkoswald, was celebrated for having dedicated the better part of her life “to caring for those most vulnerable, both children and the elderly”.
The Cumberland & Westmoreland Herald details her remarkable story:
“Having been abandoned by her mother, and subsequently growing up in an orphanage in Glasgow, Doreen became used to looking after others from the age of 12, when she was expected to rise at 5:30am to look after 17 under-nines, washing and dressing them. She trained as a nurse, making her well equipped to take on the demanding role of fostering. As well as bringing up her own two children, Doreen gave youngsters in her care the chance of a normal home life.”
The chairperson of the committee, Tess Hart, also details how Doreen had “given great strength to the families” she had helped. On top of caring in her domestic context, we also learn that she “played a big part in the community life of Kirkoswald”, providing plenty of “support, comfort and reassurance” to fellow residents of her village.
Later on in the article, her effectiveness as a carer is outlined by the success of one of the many children who had been in her care. A young adult, whom she initially helped as a “young boy with Asperger syndrome”, recounted how her support had been crucial in facilitating his journey, including gaining a BA:
“Without her, people would have given up on me, and I might be in an institution or worse. Doreen Beattie wanted to prove I wasn’t like the rest, I wasn’t going to be written off as unteachable, unable to get work or a career. I now have a respectable job, I got through my education, and I always remembered the advice she gave me. I owe my life to her.”
After retiring from her career as a foster carer, she has since gone on to become a carer for the elderly in her community – an apt transferral of her “special skills and dedication” to an equally commendable calling.
We hope this article demonstrates the immense value foster carers can and do create in their communities each and every day across the UK. Find out some of our own foster carer stories, or get in touch with us if you want to make a similar kind of difference in your own community.
We’ve previously shared our thoughts on how best to provide foster children with a new home for Christmas, with some thoughts and advice on how to ease the child’s transition. Hopefully we also highlighted how important this season of hope is for children in care.
This time we’ll go into more depth as to why this time of year, in particular, can be a complicated one for foster children moving between placements. The focus here is on encouraging the ideal approach from close family members. As mentioned last time, two things jumped out of the discussion: the importance of both communication and striking a balance.
There’s No Such Thing As Over-Communication
Navigating this festive season so that everyone is happy is dependent on communication. With your own family, communicate your thoughts, listen to theirs, and ensure everyone collaborates to create an atmosphere conducive to a positive placement. This coordinated approach will pay dividends, but if you’re new to fostering, it will require concerted attention and time. Naturally, the need for collective effort will lessen with time.
Leading on from that, opening a dialogue with the foster child is just as important. As an example, taking into account where the child wants to spend Christmas day itself is key; no one is better placed to tell you what they hope for than the children themselves. Even if your hands are tied, and the decision about where they spend the big day doesn’t ultimately rest with you, it’s crucial to let them know about the logistics in advance. This might seem like insignificant detail, but put yourself in the shoes of the child: this factor could shape their entire experience of Christmas for that given year.
Striking the Balance
Hopefully this makes it clear that communication should be conscientious, thorough and tactful, which leads nicely into the overall balancing act, i.e. balancing the needs of the foster child as evenly as possible with those of your immediate family. A definite positive is, that if you get the communication stage with your nearest and dearest right, this balance should be all the more straightforward.
Above all, this is with the view of communicating that the foster child is valued – and has a right to be valued. Get it right, and the benefits extend far beyond the one Christmas season in question.
As with most situations, the thought of starting something new tends to present itself with feelings of excitement mixed with anxiety, nerves, and stress. Opening your home to a new family member is potentially stressful, both for you and other members of your household. Perpetual Fostering is here to help you through this process, as well as to remind you that the child you will be welcoming is likely to be even more anxious than you are.
We understand that you need support which is why all of our foster carers have a strong professional network and support community right from the beginning. Our social workers, initially, provide daily support which eventually becomes a weekly check-in as the relationship with the foster carer develops.
Giving your foster child the environment they need in order to feel safe is the primary aim of fostering. There are, however, some key considerations. As an example, how best to arrange the foster child’s bedroom, as well as your house as a whole, is largely down to your own intuition. Here are some tips that may help:
- Prepare for your prospective foster child in the same way you would when preparing for other family members coming to stay.
- Welcoming a child into a clean and tidy house is instantly reassuring.
- The way you set up their bedroom should feel warm and inviting, not sterile.
- If you use pictures, decorations, and colours, make sure the decor doesn’t overwhelm the child, or fail to reflect his or her personality.
- Stay open to ideas for decorating their room as it will encourage a child to think of it as their own safe space.
Once a placement has been made, there is usually an adjustment period during which the boundaries and routines of both carers and children come to be established. Be prepared for this, don’t fear it, and most importantly, remember the following:
- Your boundaries are there to protect the child in your home, both emotionally and physically.
- There is usually a moment when your foster child will come to accept and settle into these routines, however, some children might test these boundaries to see how flexible they are.
- If you ever feel overwhelmed or find things too difficult to cope with alone, social workers and support staff are always on hand to provide the additional help you need.
- Dependent on the situation, our registered mental health nurse may carry out an assessment involving support workers, spending time in a foster carer’s home to evaluate the circumstances.
Perpetual Fostering is proud to go above and beyond national minimum standards of foster care, ensuring we are always available to support our foster carers, no matter the situation or time of day. Moreover, we believe that this support filters down to the foster children through our carers, and we look forward to continuing in our supportive and uplifting role in facilitating this positive change.