Joy Rees discusses the importance of life work in helping children to understand their personal stories and experiences, but says that too many children’s services lack enough time to carry out this vital work. Her article has been adapted from her new book, Life Work with Children Who are Fostered or Adopted, which emphasises that life work is best achieved using a collaborative approach.
As a social work practitioner, manager and trainer, I have worked directly and indirectly with children in care throughout my career. Most of these children were living with, or about to move to, permanent substitute families. Many were placed years prior to my involvement, and it was with the benefit of hindsight that I began to reflect on the purpose of life work and the effect that this had on the children I met. Continue reading
With the number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) on the sharp rise, the need for thorough analytical assessments has never been greater when deciding whether to place a child with a potential special guardian. Here Joanne Alper and colleagues draw on experts in the field to provide information and guidance in the promotion of improved analysis when undertaking these complex assessments.
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Joanne is the author of Assessing Adoptive Parents, Foster Carers and Kinship Carers, Second Edition. Now fully updated and expanded to cover the assessment of kinship carers and special guardians, the book enables professionals to establish a meaningful understanding of parenting capacity and what it takes to support a child with a history of trauma, loss or hurt.
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Joy 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