The demand for new foster carers has never been greater

Foster carers

Andy Elvin, CEO of the UK’s largest adoption and fostering charity TACT, describes the immense contribution that foster carers make on a daily basis to the lives of vulnerable children, but explains how the demand for new foster carers has never been greater.

Monday 8th May saw the launch of Welcome to Fostering, a new JKP book co-edited by myself Andy Elvin, CEO of the UK’s largest Adoption and Fostering charity TACT, and Martin Barrow, former news editor at The Times and a veteran foster carer.  The purpose of the book is to explain how to become a foster carer, and what the experience of fostering is actually like, in the hope that more people take up the mantle. It is packed with case studies from actual foster carers detailing their experiences: their first placements, the challenges they have faced along the way and what it is has meant to them to be making a difference, day in day out, to the lives of these children who depend on them. It also includes case studies and quotes from children in foster care themselves. Continue reading

Unorthodox Beginnings – A Poem About a foster family

A poem by TACT Ambassador and 2016 National Poetry Slam Champion, Solomon OB, about what his foster family means to him – as featured in Welcome To Fostering.

 

 

She graces stages

West End bound, best friend found in a sibling who

chauffeured her halfway to crazy when we were younger

My sister

 

She called me baby

As soon as I arrived through those airport doors, she

came charging, screaming, she hugged me with a force

you would expect from a lady who had not seen me

since 10 years before

My mother Continue reading

What is it like from a birth parent’s perspective to have your children living in foster care?

Foster care birth parentsIn this extract from Welcome to Fostering, Annie describes what it is like from a birth parent’s perspective to have your children living with foster carers, and provides some useful advice for foster carers on how to manage a good relationship with birth parents. She is the writer of her own blog, Surviving Safeguarding, which tells the story of her ongoing journey to win her children back into her custody. She believes that ‘Fostering is truly a wonderful thing’.

Click here to download the extract

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When did it all go wrong between social work and the media?

To mark JKP’s 30th anniversary year, Martin Barrow discusses the relationship between social work and the media, and the negative impact it has on society’s views of social workers. Martin (@martinbarrow) is a foster carer and writer for The Huffington Post having previously worked as editor for The Times back in 2008. He writes about social work, mental health and child welfare. He is also an editor of the upcoming title Welcome to Fostering, publishing in May. 

When did it all go wrong between social workers and the media? You can do worse than to look back to 1987, exactly 30 years ago, to the Cleveland child abuse scandal. This was a profoundly disturbing case in which dozens of children were removed from their families on the basis of diagnoses given by two paediatricians. In the face of a public outcry the doctors were challenged and, eventually, many of the children were allowed to return home. By then, an entire community was traumatised and social workers, as well as paediatricians, had become demonised.

Continue reading

How to compile a life story book for an adopted or fostered child

life story booksJoy Rees, author of Life Story Books for Adopted and Fostered Children, gives her advice on how best to compile a life story book for an adopted or fostered child.  Working chronologically backwards rather than forwards, she explains how such a format reinforces the child’s sense of security and promotes attachment.

A Life Story Book tells the story of the child’s life and is often described as an ‘essential tool’ to help the child gain a sense of identity and an understanding of his or her history. This was the emphasis when I wrote the first edition of this book, Life Story Books for Adopted Children, – A Family Friendly Approach, some 10 years ago.

This approach evolved from my work with adoptive families, and from a growing awareness that most of the books I read at that time were simply not ‘fit for purpose’. The language used and the details given about the birth parents’ history was generally not appropriate or helpful. The books were just not child friendly. At best many of them were complex and confusing and it was difficult to follow the child’s story in them. At worse, some books inadvertently fed into the child’s sense of self-blame and shame about their early experiences. Others risked adversely affecting placement stability by impeding the vital claiming and belonging stages of the attachment process. Continue reading

How Star Wars can help you talk to your child about adoption

Read an exclusive extract from Adoption at the Movies

In his new book Adoption at the Movies, based on the popular blog by the same name, Addison Cooper reveals how movies your kids love, like Star Wars, can get the whole family talking about adoption in a fun and safe way.

With a film for each week of the year, Addison Cooper has compiled the best movies, new and old, for family-friendly viewing. Among those featured are Finding Dory, Frozen, Paddington, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kung Fu Panda, Divergent, The Blind Side and I am Sam. Carefully selected, the movies included will help families to comfortably talk about important adoption-related topics. Films are sorted by age range and topic, so it’s easy to find the perfect movie for your family. Cooper summarizes the plot, the adoption connection, difficult or scary scenes, and provides discussion questions for each movie. Helping all members of the family to explore both the pain and joy of adoption, the book covers a range of issues which can arise, such as culture, identity, control, and reunification. With something for everyone—from kids, to teens, to grown-ups—this is a must-have for all adoptive families.

Chapter 7: Thirteen Movies to Watch with Your Teens

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace introduces Anakin Skywalker as a nine-year-old boy who leaves a difficult life for the potential of a better life far from where he was born. The Star Wars series follows Anakin’s story and the stories of his children. On its own, this movie is a story about Anakin leaving one family and acclimating to another sort of family, but it is best viewed as the first of six movies that together tell a story of loss, identity formation, and multiple instances of family reunification. There are many adoption themes throughout the series to explore with your kids. This film, and most of the series in general, seems best suited to kids of ages 10 and up and their parents.”

Click here to read the full extract

 

To learn more about Adoption at the Movies or purchase a copy, click here. You can also view the full range of our adoption books here, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.

What is attachment and attachment disorder?

Attachment disorderClinical psychologist Colby Pearce provides a concise and easy to understand introduction to what ‘attachment’ means, how to recognise attachment disorders and how to help children who have an attachment disorder. This extract is taken from his new book A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder, Second Edition which offers a comprehensive set of tried-and-tested practical strategies that can be used in the home, school and consulting room with children affected by an attachment disorder. Colby is also the author of A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children.

Download the extract

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Meet Rosie Rudey, Charley Chatty, Sophie Spikey and William Wobbly

Sarah Naish describes the real children behind the characters in her new book series for ages 3 to 10, and explains why each story is such a helpful resource for parents whose adopted or fostered children are struggling to manage their emotions. Introducing Rosie Rudey, Charley Chatty, Sophie Spikey and William Wobbly, none of them had an easy start in life but luckily their mum is here to help them save the day. 

naish-jefferies_william-wobbly_978-1-78592-151-3_colourjpg-printAll the time I was raising my 5 adopted children I was desperate to find a book which would cut through all the psycho- babble and help me to help my children – quickly and effectively.  My daughter Rosie and I have now written the children’s books that I always tried to find to read to my children. They are Rosie Rudey and the Very Annoying Parent, Charley Chatty and the Wiggly Worry Worm, Sophie Spikey Has a Very Big Problem and William Wobbly and the Very Bad Day.

Rosie was adopted by me at the age of 8, along with her four younger siblings, aged 7 months, 2, 3 and 6. The children had reactive attachment disorder (disorganised attachment) and were therapeutically re-parented successfully to a secure adulthood. Rosie now works alongside me in Inspire Training Group, helping to train foster carers, adopters and social workers. Continue reading

New toys and expensive parties aren’t the best way to show a child love – Jane Evans

loveIn this article, Jane Evans reflects upon her new book Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love to discuss how we can help children aged 2-6 learn about the ways that love, friendships and kindness can look, sound or feel in this increasingly complicated world.

It may seem strange to think about teaching children about love and kindness. Surely that’s what they grow up knowing. They feel it every time they are picked up, rocked, fed, and sung to. They see it in the eyes of those around them. They are taught the difference between a kind act and an unkind one once they begin to be around other children. Lessons on sharing and ‘not pushing and snatching’ can become regular and repetitive!

What prompted me to write about Cyril Squirrel going on an adventure to find out about love and kindness was a sense that these simple concepts are getting lost and confused in modern day life. Children can easily come to equate love and kindness with things. We live in a consumer driven world in which parents and carers can feel a real pressure to show children how much they matter by providing material comforts, fabulous toys, equipment and experiences.  But is that a great example of love? Continue reading

Yoga breathing exercise for foster carers, adopters and their families – Andrea Warman

Lark-Warman_Caring-with-Vit_978-1-84905-664-9_colourjpg-printYoung Royals Kate, William and Harry promoted the Heads Together charity earlier this week with a campaign encouraging people to talk about mental health and to find practical, everyday ways to help. During Foster Care Fortnight it seems fitting to think about the wellbeing of carers who risk  becoming stressed, anxious or depressed. Yoga and other mind/body practices can help – and they don’t all require being super-fit or flexible. It all begins with good breathing, so try this simple exercise from our book Caring With Vitality – Yoga and Wellbeing for Foster Carers, Adopters and Their Families.

Breathing holds the key

‘If you breathe well, you will live long on the earth.’

Yoga is not just about the physical asanas (postures). In fact, it is learning and practising a different way to breathe that will revitalise you even more than doing the poses.

All too often we become used to taking quick, shallow breaths (into our chests rather than our bellies), without making full use of all our breathing muscles, or our full lung capacity. If we carry on with this ‘bad’ breathing, the result can be physical tension and a whole range of other health problems. Continue reading