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How To Help Foster Children Be Creative

At Perpetual Fostering we know that there are many factors which determine how successful a foster placement will be, but we feel one of the most important is that the child is given the opportunity to develop their own identity.

Understanding how to help foster children be creative not only helps them to not only occupy their free time in a positive way, but also give them a sense of direction and a true feeling of accomplishment.

A child may come to you with several interests and hobbies already, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expand on these and bring out even more of your foster child’s inner creator.

It’s always important to take interest in the child’s current activities and interests, so try to build on what they already know and love.

Of course some foster children might not open up to such questions easily, so if you find yourself struggling to get into their creative world then there’s still something you can do.

Taster sessions and new after-school activities

There are plenty of clubs and groups which offer taster sessions for children, and if it’s not for them there’s no harm done. Add to this the plethora of after-school activities which are on offer at most schools, and you’ll see there are many opportunities for children to be creative.

It is also wise to be patient with a child who seems to give up new activities quickly praising them for the smallest of achievements is a great way to keep them motivated in new activities.

The importance of building on their initial interests

When you’ve established that your child has an interest, it’s critical that your child is supported as much as possible.

This may involve small expenses for equipment and supplies, dedicating your free time to take them back and forth to classes, or helping to make a space for their creativity to blossom.

The word opportunity is the key here, because giving children the chance to experiment, try, and even fail at activities helps them decide what they like, what they’re good at, and who they want to be.

Being a foster parent is about enjoying the wonderful life you’re about to carve out with a child who is trying to find their way in the world.

What we do here at Perpetual Fostering

Our team at Perpetual Fostering understands that creative activities help foster parents bond and get to know their child better than anything, which is why we were so proud to have been singled out by Ofsted for our work in this area in our recent report.

As a leading independent fostering agency, we feel that it is important for all children within our care to feel involved and be given opportunities to express themselves. For example, we often hold annual summer camps, picnic barbecues and coffee mornings, as well as give our young people the chance to partake in more high-octane activities such as rock climbing.

We strive to support, train, and encourage foster carers to build these creative relationships, because we’ve seen how much good it does for both foster parent and child.

Creativity has been described as the power to connect the seemingly unconnected, and if that doesn’t offer up a fantastic metaphor for foster care then we don’t know what does!

If you would like more advice on how to encourage your child’s creativity or you’d like to start your fostering journey with us, get in touch with our team today on 0845 074 0076.

Becoming a foster carer with an independent fostering agency like Perpetual Fostering is a fantastic way of giving a child a chance in life, and to see their faces light up with smiles, laughter and amazement this Autumn.

Whilst being an extremely heartwarming and humbling experience, foster parenting is never easy, especially at a time when traditions such as Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner.

As foster children are from a wide variety of backgrounds and circumstances, you may have a dilemma on your hands when it comes to taking part in such events. In fact, most foster children may have never celebrated Halloween or Bonfire Night before.

We know that it’s natural for all foster parents to encourage their children to join in with seasonal traditions. Not only does it help to provide a sense of normality for each family, they’re also a great way of helping foster children become more confident and to create some happy and long lasting memories.

Even as adults, moving skeletons, scary masks and the sound of screaming and fireworks may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for foster children who have previously been exposed to difficult backgrounds, such sights and sounds may be very frightening on a dark, cold night.

Well, turning your Halloween celebration from a haunting and spooky evening into something fun and more suitable is extremely easy to do:

Talk About Halloween

Don’t just go ahead and begin telling your favourite ghost stories! Instead, talking to your children about Halloween can be a fantastic way of helping to alleviate their existing fears and anxiety.

Foster children do have different levels of awareness around traditional events, so being able to talk to them about Halloween and Bonfire Night can be a great way of aiding your understanding of them. Regardless of their experiences, you should always be supportive and patient.

Celebrate The Whole Season

Halloween isn’t all about getting dressed up in a scary costume to go trick-or-treating, there are many other, more creative ways you can help to celebrate it as a foster family. How about a silly faces pumpkin carving competition, or hosting a pumpkin patch scavenger hunt in your garden?

Oh, and nothing beats the smell of freshly baked parkin, so why not get your children involved with this as well?

Choose Non-scary Halloween Stories & Films

Believe it or not, there are plenty of traditional stories and movies that you could introduce your foster children during Halloween. As they’re based on folklore and the history of Halloween, they can be a great way of exposing all children to the real meaning and traditions behind the celebration.

At Perpetual Fostering, our team of trained and talented social workers are very experienced, so we have the ability to provide you with support, advice and ideas on how best to celebrate these seasonal events as a family.

To hear the insights of other foster carers who are in the exact same position as you, our fantastic fostering community and forum is a great way of being able to discuss and confide with other carers about these issues.

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 need you. Plain and simple.

If you’re already a carer or you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, you’re in the right place. Whether you’ve been on this journey for a while, or if you’re just starting out, we’ll make sure that you have all the support you need, wherever and whenever you need it.

As an independent fostering agency, here at Perpetual Fostering we promote the provision of safe, stable placements – both short and long term – for children and young people.The journey to becoming a foster carer is a truly rewarding one and  we’ve simplified the steps to becoming a foster carer with step-by-step support and trusted, professional guidance. Although the process can be detailed and lengthy, you can rest assured knowing we’ll be with 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.

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 help make a difference to those who need it most. Foster carers are in great need here in the UK, especially in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Greater Manchester – we wholeheartedly believe in equipping you with all the skills and knowledge you need so that you can be the very best that you can be.

Start your fostering journey with Perpetual Fostering today. We care so that you can.

Over the past six months, there’s been something really amazing happening. And what’s that little something, we hear you ask? It’s the increased attention and coverage foster care has received! For us as an independent agency, it’s so exciting to see more dialogue, more opinions, and more celebrations of foster carers. As you’ll see, this should lead to greater awareness – at a national level – of many aspects of foster care, including:

  • how foster carers work incredibly hard, and are doing amazing jobs while they’re at it
  • the foster community is a vibrant one, as well as diverse
  • there is a national shortage, numbering in the thousands, that needs to be addressed

So without further ado, here are some of the standout moments from the past six months – the kind that we think will raise awareness about foster care to new heights:

Lorraine Pascale is Appointed Fostering Ambassador

As if there was any doubt whatsoever that fostered children go on to do great things, Lorraine is here as a shining example. As we covered in a previous post, we’re so proud to witness such a popular personality such as herself taking up the reign of promoting foster care. She’s the very first person to be appointed to this role!

Foster Carers Are Honoured by the Queen

We’ve witnessed foster carers from around the country being recognised by Royalty! A grand total of 11 hardworking foster carers were listed in the New Year Honour’s list 2015, as part of the section for education and children’s services.

A Duchess Celebrates Foster Carers

As if the current Queen’s attention weren’t enough, a future Queen of ours has also shown an interest! In case you missed it, the Duchess herself spent the day with foster carers – both new and old – as well as fostered children, in Islington, North London. Read our post about her visit here.

We’re genuinely delighted by the increased attention foster care seems to be getting up and down the country, and across all kinds of channels of media. And it’s only March! We’re hopeful that 2015 will continue to have plenty more well-deserved spotlight attention and recognition for foster carers in store.

Now that we’re in the swing of things in 2015, we hope to point out how important it is for us to recruit foster carers this year. We intend to see as many vulnerable children taken into care as possible – but there is still plenty to be done with that in mind. So it made sense for us to look back at some discussions from 2014, and see what we can take forward to make this year even better than the last.

The Numbers

Unfortunately, the problem does come down to numbers: there’s a glaring shortage of carers nationwide, with demand easily dwarfing supply. This means there is an urgent need for almost 9,000 foster carers if we, as a nation, are going to properly care for every child in need.

The figures break down as follows:

  • England needs to add over 7,300 more foster families
  • Scotland is short of 850 families
  • 600 are needed in Wales
  • while Northern Ireland is short of 200

Flexibility is Needed

In light of the numbers, having more potential foster carers on call is an important step closer to having flexibility regarding not only placements, as well as greater placement stability for the children concerned.

We’ve previously looked at why multiple placement options are an ideal approach when making arrangements for foster children. As much as possible, this kind of contingency would be ideal in case a placement goes wrong. In spite of the best efforts of any fostering agency, placements occasionally don’t work out.

The Crucial Chance

You could be the adult or role model in their life to make all the difference to their future!

We’ve previously highlighted how vulnerable young foster children have come a very long way, and without fail, their foster parents played a pivotal role in each case. As examples, just take Declan Rose, a documentary filmmaker focusing on fostering, and the inspiring story of Doreen Beattie – Cumbria’s Woman of the Year for her incredible record as a carer.

What have we missed out? Are there any lessons you think we should really be taking forward?

If you’ve been inspired, tell us! No matter if you’ve read widely or are just embarking on a foster journey of your own, find out about some more amazing people we’ve worked with, or get in touch with us directly.

A foster carer has been remembered in the Nottingham Post for her incredible service to children in care. After several decades spent with more than 60 foster children under her wing, Peggy Parker is honoured by her daughters – two of whom were foster children of hers and later became full family members.

Tributes have been pouring in for Peggy, who was a “loving and caring” foster carer for dozens of children in the Nottingham area. She lived in variously in St Ann’s, Netherfield and Gedling with her husband over a period of 30 years, in which time they excelled in providing stability and safety for vulnerable children.

Her only child, Margaret, describes Peggy’s dedication to giving youngsters a home: “I remember the first child she fostered was a little girl who was originally from Clifton … she was about two years old.” Her daughter continues: on top of caring for her own child, Peggy “fostered quite a few brothers and sisters, but the most she had at a time was probably three … I always wondered how she could do it. Most of the children had been neglected and were very vulnerable.”

Margaret admits that her mum “sometimes used to get upset when they had to be taken away again, but she seemed to take everything in her stride.”

The article also describes how sisters Carole and Susan, whom Peggy fostered together, never left after arriving at just nine and 11 respectively. They’ve been welcome additions to their family in the 43 years since, and Carole sums up their story nicely: “I don’t know where Susan and I would have been … it certainly couldn’t have been any better than we had. Peggy was a very caring mum to us and gave up a lot to look after us.”

Susan goes on to add: “she brought us up well. She never treated us any differently to her own daughter – we were like her own”

At Perpetual Fostering we’d also like to celebrate the memory of Peggy and her foster caring career. We’re constantly amazed by the extraordinary people who choose to foster, and have an immeasurable impact on their community in the process. Get in touch with us today to find out how you can transform the lives of vulnerable children for the better, or read some of the stories of our valued carers.

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.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas this year – we’re still feeling the Christmas cheer, but now that all those Christmas feasts are over, it’s probably time to get those children active! This time we’ll be thinking about how to get them out of the house and using up some energy in the cold weather.

Build a Snowman!
Not only is the story of the Snowman a much-loved one, it also relates to an activity the young ones love: building a snowman! The best part is, there’s no right or wrong, and no rulebook to building one! If your foster child is new to the idea, or hasn’t built one before, ask them how they’d like to go about it, and what features it should have.

Go Ice Skating!
It’s a great way to get them active and moving, and also something they won’t get up to much at any other time of year. What we love about this activity is, it’s fun for everyone – both adults and children alike, even in the cold weather! Regardless of anyone’s skill level, it’s a fantastic bonding exercise, and much more fun than just sitting together in front of the TV.

Go for Nice Long Walks
Just make sure everyone is properly wrapped up warm – with boots and wellies probably necessary, depending on where you go! If you don’t live near large woods or parks, Christmas markets are a very valid alternative, and a great way to keep the Christmas atmosphere alive that little bit longer.

Find Shelter
If the winter weather is simply getting too much for you and the kids, you can still take yourselves out of the house, but into the warmth of a place of worship instead! This isn’t just great for foster children – if they’re interested in going with you – but also for your own children.

Just remember: whatever you decide to do out of the house – wrap everyone up warm!

These are just several ways to share in activities outside of the home, and build trust and relationships with the foster children in your care. Read some of our case studies to hear other stories of fostering families, or get in touch with us directly if you have any questions.

Having previously mentioned points to think about in the early stages of becoming a foster carer, we thought it was time to go into a little more depth about the process as a whole. 

What exactly is required when becoming a foster carer?

Am I going to have inspector visits to my home?

How long will it all take?

What will they want to know about me and my family?

It’s natural to have plenty of questions when we embark on a new chapter in life. However, becoming a foster carer is the kind of chapter in which the stakes can be higher. The decisions made early on have a real, lasting impact on a select group of people, and not just yourself and your immediate family. At Perpetual Fostering we strive for excellence in supporting the amazing people who foster with us. We believe in empowering our foster carers throughout the relationship, and that starts with transparency. So read on for insights into how the placement process plays out, our mindset and thinking behind each step, and where potential foster carers fit into the journey.

After the initial enquiry, things kick off with a response call, during which candidates are asked around 10-12 questions, largely covering:

  • whether you have a spare bedroom, i.e. one solely available for a foster child
  • any past misdemeanours or criminal convictions
  • the status of your overall health
  • past relationships
  • your financial health
  • whether you have any dangerous animals in your household
  • the motivation behind your interest in fostering

Following on from this, an initial visit is made to the household, the purpose being to inspect the potential home of a foster child. The social worker responsible then summarises these findings to their manager. After this, the candidate is invited to a three-day skills and assessment workshop. This involves an evaluation of the actual person; what kind of personality and temperament they possess, how they respond to challenging situations, their interpersonal skills, and so on.

Last but not least, a series of home visits – between six to eight different occasions in total –  are carried out, with each visit lasting around two to three hours. Home visits are conducted with the view of:

  • getting the measure of the overall stability of the family and home environment.
  • building an accurate chronology and understanding of the family unit
  • enquiring about the relational health of family members, i.e. if there is a string of failed relationships on the part of the parents.
  • Statutory, Health, Local Authority and Sex Register checks – amongst others – are also carried out around this time.

This is the final step involving the candidate and their family, with the final verdict being communicated fairly promptly thereafter: the whole process generally requires around eight months in total.

To summarise, it’s important not to view the above as a number of overly-meticulous steps. For one, this level of careful consideration is just as crucial for potential foster carers, in determining whether foster caring is genuinely for them, as it is for fostering agencies to able to safeguard vulnerable foster children. Consider each step as an opportunity for self-reflection, especially in the early stages of such a significant life decision.

For another, being honest, conscientious and transparent with each answer, at each and every stage, can ensure smooth progression through the assessment process. Again, these checks are just as much about looking out for you as they are about protecting those arguably most affected by fostering: the children themselves.

If you’re considering becoming a foster carer, are curious about what is required, and want to find out more about the process, we encourage you to read more, or get in touch with us.