Thursday, July 05, 2018


10.05 am Earlier Today

My mobile rings. I don't get many actual calls these days on the mobile. Friends and family, we text each other.
An actual spoken call means one of two things: something quite important or unimportant such as a cold caller on about PPI.
It's important; the Blue Sky placement team. Would I be willing to take a child who is being taken into care today. A nine year-old girl whose single mother has repeatedly failed to provide the levels of care that social services have requested/instructed since the family came onto their radar after a tip-off from neighbours.

I said a provisional yes, the file is being emailed to me. Then I texted husband.

10.30 am

File digested.

"Ryder" is one of three, the children have a record of conflict with each other so they're being separated. Social services had planned to set up fostering arrangements in advance but tempers in the house suddenly rose to danger point possibly because the family twigged there was an intervention taking shape. There seems a  possibility that Ryder's eldest brother may be a 'perp' (police talk for perpetrator) rather than fellow victim. Or maybe a bit of both.
Ryder has been profiled (interviewed) knows something major is coming. She might be re-interviewed at some point, might even be needed again to give evidence in court. At this stage I'm not confided in as to suspicions of who might have done wrongdoing to whom, except to know that Ryder is in the clear. So wherever she goes Ryder's  new family'll need to have tons of TLC on standby from the getgo, maybe more later.
Ryder's notes say she likes Paddington Bear and Love Island.
I always pay special attention to the child's food likes and dislikes (Mazlow's theory of needs, bless him...).
Ryder likes chocolate, cheese and onion crisps and/or hula-hoops, biscuits (especially chocolate biscuits), Big Macs, Peperami, Baby Belle mini cheeses, and Fridge Raiders.
Dear Lord. I bet she's another child coming into care who's never eaten a piece of fruit. Come to think, I've hardly ever had a foster child come to stay who didn't need teaching how to peel an orange.
She goes to a school about 15 minutes by car from me so I can (just about) slot her into my usual school run.

10.45 am

My Blue Sky social worker telephones me. They can usually be relied on to be excited for their carers when a new child is maybe on the way.
I ask whether Ryder has been sexualised in any way and she agrees that though there's nothing on the file it's a question that should be asked in the light of doubts about the older brother's behaviour, and since I have children already in my house, including an older boy, I want to keep them safe too.
I told my social worker that our 'provisional yes' would stay provisional until that issue was clarified.

I go upstairs and do yet another check on the spare bedroom; clean and tidy, fresh sheets (obviously), clean towel folded on end of bed (I know it's a bit hotel-ish, but the child doesn't know us and at first might baulk at sharing towels with strangers). Also; nothing that belongs or might have belonged to any other child; I want them to feel the room is a new start, it's theirs and theirs alone.

11.05 am

Social worker calls back. She's spoken at length with the local authority social worker who's carrying out the order to remove the children (on her recommendation). Ryder has not, (they are as certain as they can be) received or engaged in any inappropriate behaviour. The problems with her older brother are best characterised as verbal and emotional bullying.

I confirmed we're prepared to take Ryder. Our bid is in. I remind Blue Sky that I do a school run from about 3.15pm to 4.00pm, they can't get me between those times, and if we're successful and the child needs to come here before 3.00pm someone will need to stay with her at our house until I'm back.

I keep husband informed by text.

Now begins the wait.

12.15 pm.

Not a long wait! Phone rings. Blue Sky Placement team; Ryder, they are pleased to tell me, will be coming to us.The placement officer says he'll inform my social worker.

12.30 pm

My social worker phones to say it's great news. It does actually feel like something to celebrate - or at least feel good about - every time. Part of me is fully aware that a child coming into care means a child has been through awful times, and probably faces dark days ahead too, but at the moment of confirmation that a child is coming, the hope and realisation that you have a chance to give them a chance, overwhelms. You do a few cartwheels in your head, send your other half a text ending with an exclamation mark then three xxx's.

Ryder, I learn, is at school today, and will be going to school tomorrow. They like to keep that continuity, it helps normalise something that is anything but normal.  The school will be informed about her change of circumstance. She will make her own way back to her house where a social worker will carry out the dreaded removal.

I don't like to spend too long thinking about removals. I know for absolute certainshaw-burtonshaw that it can be hell on legs for all concerned.

I was once given a graphic description of a removal by a very saddened social worker who brought the child to us and told me about it while the child was out in the garden playing with our dog. If you don't want a picture in your head that will haunt, skip the next paragraph.

You've been warned. The child, aged five, clung onto the bannisters so tightly, all the while screaming and crying, that the social worker had to prise her tiny hands off finger by finger. But with each new finger to prise the finger that had just been released shot back in an iron grip around the bannisters. There, now I'm filling up for the child, but hey that was way back, and I happen to know the child is going along pretty well.

Welcome back. (Look, I bet you read the above paragraph, and if you did and felt a sadness you're ready to foster, if you aren't already fostering...)

I'm preparing a Tupperware snack box to go in her room consisting of a packet of cheese and onion crisps, 3 buttered cream crackers and a banana.

Out in the garage is a bin-liner full of unwanted soft toys. I seem to remembered a nearly new Paddington-ish teddy bear. I have a drawer of saved gift bags, the toy fits in one of them, I'll give it to her as an arriving present.

My Blue Sky social worker is aiming to be here at 4.00pm or shortly after to help with the arrival. Ryder is expected to be brought here with her local authority social worker some time around 4.30pm.

Gives me a chance to explain to the rest of the family that there'll be one more for tea tonight.

I'll describe her arrival (if I get time) next post.


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