Alliance Foster Care Year Book

Maria Glover, Registered Manager at Alliance Foster Care introduces the brand new year book, following the agency through 2017.

Since Alliance Foster Care was established fifteen years ago, it has grown from strength to strength, and each year we endeavour to build on the successes of previous years. 2017 was no exception.

As often happens, we gather lots of photos and mementoes through the year, but up until now we have never collated them into an album. This year we started working with a wonderful organisation called iLifemyLife. They showed us some great examples of how they collect and keep memories alive for the children that we work with, and we thought it would be a great idea to do this for the agency.

This is the first year we have done this and it’s been wonderful to look back on some really special times and to acknowledge so many of our achievements.  In fact it’s been so much fun we have decided that we will save all our memories each year in a year book.

We really hope that you enjoy reading our 2017 year book, and by the end you will have a greater insight into what we are all about.

If you’d like to join us on our 2017 journey, please click here to get in touch and order an information pack today.

Support Is Key When Fostering

Alliance Foster Care recognise that support is essential when fostering and regular support groups are held to give foster carers the opportunity to come together. Diane, Supervising Social Worker gives her account of our Corby Support Group.

Corby Support Group

The Corby Fostering Support Group has been running for 5 years and takes place on a monthly basis, alternating between workshops in a local community centre and lunches in a local pub.

This group has grown together and whilst I take a lead on organising and setting up the sessions, the carers play a part in determining what sessions look like and how they would like them to run. Every January there is a session where carers will suggest issues that could be discussed and local services that will come and speak to us.

We have had sessions on Emotional Regulation, Solution Focussed Interventions, the benefit of horse riding for Looked After Children, Theraplay, Child Sexual Exploitation, Internet Safety, The Role of Appropriate Adult, Managing Teenagers, Virtual School workshop…the list goes on. We also take the opportunity to complete some mandatory training on occasions.

What is becoming increasingly important to carers in this group, however, is the opportunity to share experiences and be able to express any concerns or worries they have around fostering within a trusted and safe environment. The advice, support, guidance and reassurance provided by their peers is something that is incredibly valuable; I have had many times when carers have been upset and distressed but have found comfort from others and leave the group re-energised. Their sense of humour often helps them through very challenging situations and laughter is generally not far away when this group meets.

The group know each other very well but are also welcoming of new carers coming along. They will offer their telephone numbers to those who may need some local support and will make themselves available for a chat or a cup of coffee. There are a number of carers who meet up regularly outside of the support group and have forged firm friendships.

I thoroughly enjoy being part of this group and know that we will go from strength to strength.

By Diane, Supervising Social Worker

This is an extract from Alliance’s brand new year book which is available to order alongside an information pack by making an enquiry online. If you’re interested in finding out more, please click here to get in touch with our friendly team today

 

LGBT History Month

February is LGBT History Month! An annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.

LGBT History Month celebrates the history of gay rights and related civil rights movements which originated in the United States in 1994 and first took place in the UK in February 2005.

This is a month that is dedicated to promoting equality and diversity in foster care, which is crucial to the fostering community.

LGBT History Month offers the perfect opportunity for people to voice any of their experiences about fostering as an LGBT Carer. That’s why, to celebrate, we’ve asked some of our LGBT Foster Carers to share their experiences of fostering with us.

Jason & Michael (Alias)

“There are many challenges that come with fostering and looking after any young person can present difficulties. As an LGBT foster carer, we were worried that we would be subject to prejudice from society. We’re glad to say that we’ve not received any such prejudice and fostering has been the most rewarding, fulfilling journey helped by the support of those around us”.

Sarah & Louise (Alias)

“I wish someone had told us how inspiring, rewarding and fulfilling fostering actually is. It’s been the most wonderful journey that we hold very close to our heart and we’re already looking for more opportunities to help and support young people through difficult times.”

To learn more about LGBT History Month, please visit www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk.

If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer and changing a child or young person’s life for the better, please click here to get in touch with our friendly team today.

Foster Carers and HMRC

For anybody who is considering becoming a foster carer, and for those that are already fostering, you have been invited to take part in a free webinar hosted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The webinar aims to help you understand tax responsibilities and any National Insurance issues that may arise for a self-employed foster carer.

The free, hour-long webinar will take place at 11am on the 14th February and will include an interactive question and answer session.

The webinar can be accessed from all laptops, iPads, iPhones or tablets, provided you have internet access.

Spaces are limited and reservations are necessary.
To register, please visit HMRC Foster Carers Registration

Saying ‘Goodbye’ To A Foster Child

The time between the beginning and the end of a placement with a foster child can feel like no time at all. Saying goodbye can be one of the biggest challenges faced by foster carers, as well as for the young people in their care.

Having looked after a person for a period of time, you celebrate their successes, are a shoulder to cry on and you watch them grow up. They become a substantial part of your family.

The Importance of Staying Positive

Whatever the reasons for the departure, it’s normal for foster carers to experience a range of emotions when a child leaves their home. It’s important to realise that having stayed with you for a period of time will have benefited their lives for the better.

If they’re an older teenager and they’re now ready to live independently, you will have probably played the part of an important role model. You would have helped teach them valuable life skills such as learning to cook, clean and manage budgets in preparation for them to live their life on their own.

For younger children who move onto more long-term, permanent placements, it’s important to remember that moving on is in their best interests as it’s eventually helping towards placing them with their ‘forever family’.

Dealing with Grief

Losing a foster child is likely to provoke feelings of grief, so give yourself time to recover and also to celebrate the journey you’ve had together. Being open about these feelings with friend, family and other foster carers will help you to heal.

How We Can Help Foster Carers

If you are a foster carer or are considering becoming a foster carer, we can provide a range of training on how to deal with foster children moving on. Contact our team for more information by clicking here.

Fostering February 2018

Don’t rule yourself out…find out!

This month we will be showing our support for Fostering February by starting conversations about fostering both online and offline!

What is Fostering February?


Fostering February is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the facts of becoming a foster carer and aims to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions which surround it.

It gives an invaluable opportunity to people who are considering becoming a foster carer to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster carer, but immediately ruled it out?

“I’m in a same sex relationship so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I am disabled so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I don’t have a driving license so I won’t be allowed to foster”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

There are lots of different family living situations that can allow for a foster child which are often assumed can’t. Be sure to find out before making assumptions. For example, your sexual orientation won’t affect whether you are allowed to become a foster carer. The most important factor is that the children feel safe and loved and importantly are properly looked after.

How can you get involved in Fostering February 2018?

Whether you are considering becoming a foster carer or just want to help raise awareness, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with Fostering February 2018.

If you think you could help a child, please register your interest by clicking here and a member of our friendly team will be in touch.

National Storytelling Week 2018

Connect with your foster family through stories

From 27th January – 3rd February 2018, it is National Storytelling Week, held by The Society for Storytelling.

The week is the perfect chance for families to come together and celebrate the power of telling stories, an oral tradition which was the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination!

Sourced from https://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week

What’s so important about storytelling?

Storytelling isn’t just a fun activity for children and young people, it can also have a significant impact on their psychological development. Not only can it improve their language skills and imagination, but their ability to tell their own story, articulate their emotions and make themselves heard.

Stories can provide a child with insight into how the world works and can help them to understand themselves and others. Stories can help give a child greater understanding of human emotion and feelings.

The Importance of Storytelling in a Foster Family Environment

Storytelling can be useful for foster children to help strengthen their relationship with their foster carers, as the process of telling and listening to stories can build attachments and relationships.

The storyteller’s own reactions, both in how they tell and talk about the story, can create an environment that brings well-being and playfulness to the relationship.

Go on, join us in celebrating National Storytelling Week and find time to sit down the with the family to tell some inspiring stories!

Reasons to Kick-Start Your Fostering Journey

If you’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, but have been dwelling on the reasons not to foster – here are some reasons that might encourage you to make your initial enquiry.

  1. You’ve got a lot of love to give

  2. Feeling loved and cared for is one of our most basic and fundamental needs, no matter what age we are. However, when children miss out on the feeling of love and care during their early years, it can have a negative impact on their personal development and cause low self-esteem.

    Becoming a foster carer is an opportunity for you to provide a vulnerable child with the love and care they deserve.

  3. Children need to form lasting attachments

  4. Forming lasting attachments in our early years is important to help develop relationships in later life. Unfortunately, many children within the foster care system have not had the opportunity to form these attachments in their childhood due to their changing environment.

    Foster carers play a crucial role in helping children and young people to trust people by forming positive, responsive relationships with them.

  5. Too many children don’t grow up in a family setting

  6. Too many children within the foster care system grow up without their basic needs being met in a safe and happy family environment. Fostering is an opportunity to provide a child with the guidance and support that we all need.

  7. Your care can have a lasting impact

  8. The impact you could have on a foster child, even in emergency and short-term placements, can stay with them forever. Foster children can learn what being part of a caring family environment is like which can, in turn, have a positive effect on their outlook on family life and can positively influence their future.

  9. Fostering is an opportunity to learn new skills

  10. Foster carers receive ongoing support and training, which provides the opportunity to develop new skills and improve existing ones. Your supervising social worker will be there to help you along the way and will provide you with access to various training courses.

    If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a foster carer and changing a child’s life for the better, click here to get in touch with our friendly team today.

Helping Foster Children Through the Holiday Season

Christmas can and should be one of the most wonderful times of the year for children, excited about the arrival of Father Christmas and the magic the festive period brings. But, for many looked after children and young people, Christmas can be a stressful and difficult time of year.

In the build up to Christmas, all around us the vision of the perfect family enjoying the festivities is portrayed – not only through the media, but through conversations with friends about their plans for the holiday, with whom they’ll be going to visit and what activities they have planned with their families. For a looked after child who has been separated from their birth parents this can evoke powerful emotions, both positive and negative, and stir up memories and feelings from their past.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with simple things you can do this Christmas time to help looked after children cope and make this festive season a happy one…

  1. Talk about Christmas

  2. A child in care may not have a good understanding of the Christmas holiday, what it means and what traditions it brings in your home. Take time to read a few books in the run up to Christmas and be ready to hear about their past Christmases. Encourage them to share good memories, then work out ways that traditions can be integrated. Let them know what to expect, even if it’s as simple as decorations, Christmas music, stockings and lots of family meals!

  3. Maintain routine where possible

  4. Christmas can be a hectic time of year, with gifts to be bought being left until the eleventh hour and plans being changed last minute! It’s important to remember the importance of planning and how children thrive on routine. If for any reason routines can’t be maintained, talk the potential changes through with your foster child, discuss any worries they may have and outline the steps you can both take to help them cope.

  5. Involve everyone

  6. Make your home inviting and cosy together! The key is to ensure that the children or young people see the change in setting as positive and a fun activity to do together.

  7. Write a letter to Santa

  8. For younger children, if this is their first Christmas with you, it’s important that Father Christmas knows where to find you!

  9. Anticipate Christmas to be an emotional time

  10. Expect Christmas to be an emotional time for the children you look after, especially for those who may be unable to see their family. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number and children may want to talk about these and share memories with you. Take time to listen and enjoy time to bond.

  11. Prepare for guests

  12. Introducing children or young people to extended family or family gatherings can be a daunting experience for them. Planning around family gatherings is important – let them know who’s coming and when. Sometimes, it helps to talk about the visitors in advance, so that your foster child feels a familiarity and level of comfort before they have arrived. If the children or young people want to social that’s great, but remember to give them time and space to get comfortable at their own pace if they would rather.

  13. Be alcohol aware

  14. Be wary that children in care may have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs at home, and seeing people drinking at home could cause anxieties to surface, so drink responsibly.

Short Term and Long Term Fostering

Fostering is about providing a child or young person with a safe, comfortable place that they can call home for a while. There are many types of fostering placements, but the main two are short or long term.

What is short term fostering?

Short-term fostering is more common with young children, and can be anything from a one night emergency stay up to up to two years. These placements often occur whilst plans for a child or young person’s future are being made, for example in between care proceedings or court hearings.

What is long term fostering?

Long-term fostering placements provide children with more permanency if they are unlikely to be returning to their family. Children and young people in long term placements are typically cared for up until they reach adulthood and are able to care for themselves.

Which type of fostering is right for me?

Whether short term or long term placements are suitable for you depends on your own family and lifestyle, and the needs of the looked after child. The type of fostering you provide will be agreed as part of your foster carer assessment and may change as you move through your fostering career.

There is a national shortage of foster carers who are looking for long-term placements, with most placements being short-term.

If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a carer or would like to find out more about the other types of fostering, get in touch today – click here.