Friday, October 26, 2018


I popped into a Blue Sky support meeting a couple of weeks back and (as usual) something interesting came up.

These meetings are a chance for foster carers to get together and chew the fat of fostering. There are usually some social workers who join in, but it's mostly our platform. 

Sometimes foster carers need to have a therapeutic whinge. Other times they need to share triumphs and achievements. 

We laugh a lot.

A support meeting is a haven where we can kick off our shoes and compare notes with people who are doing the same thing as us. Brilliant.

What came up was interesting to say the least.

A fellow carer has been looking after a child who has announced she wants leave the carer. A placement breakdown, though rare, gets our sympathetic attention.

The carer feels wounded saddened and a bit shocked.

Look, this carer is fantastic. A wonderful woman with a huge heart and a partner who loves her rotten and is right at her side all the way except when he's out delivering, which is his job.

The 'child' is sixteen, nearly seventeen, and has had a chequered past.

She has been with the carer for four years.

When she arrived the girl was undernourished, timid, and despairing. She had started doing a bit of mild self-harming. The carer, let's call her Sue, could see light at the end of a tunnel and went to work.

Sue spent years foster-parented this young person, let's call the child Angie, through thick and thin.

Goodness knows it was a long haul, but one which brought results. Angie settled into a new school and began to get good termly reports. Her self-harming, thanks largely to all the training Sue attended, tapered off to nothing.

Angie built herself a good friendship group and eventually got a (not particularly good) boyfriend (in Sue's judgement, which was probably about spot on), but it gave young Angie's self-esteem a boost. She started volunteering at a local drop-in playgroup having decided she wanted to work with children. She was going in the right direction.

And then what happened was that Angie's mother got active in Angie's life and that threw Angie right out of kilter.

This sometimes happens in fostering. The 'real' parents tend to challenge things; the fostering system, the social workers, you name it. They've even been known to challenge their own children. They think they mean well, and at least they're reaching out to their children, but adults who have parented so badly that their children have to be removed are often poor at making judgements.

From what Sue told us Angie's real mum has been playing on Angie's heartstrings. Throwing a bunch of 'Woe is me' in Angie's direction. There probably are woes aplenty in her life, but none of them Angie's fault.

So this particular support meeting broke for coffee and when we came back we all went to work on Sue's situation; all of us in the room; all the foster parents and the Blue Sky social workers.

Long story short we ended up with the following;

Sue has been such a great foster mum to Angie that Angie (who hopes to work with children) wants to try her hand at being the same great foster mum that Sue was for her (Angie). To do that Angie needs a 'foster child' who was just as lost and helpless as Angie was when she came to Sue. 

And the problem 'foster child' Angie wants to foster is...her mum. 

Angie wants to move back in with her mum and care for her.

So, what did we all end up advising Sue to do? Well there were lots of suggestions, and obviously I thought that mine was the most sensible.

I attended the following support meeting a couple of days ago and Angie told us which of our nuggets of advice she'd gone with and what the end result is likely to be..

Sorry, not meaning to keep you hanging on, but I'll tell all in the next post.


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