Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Our latest foster placement, Ryder, is coming along.

When you start in fostering it's all a bit of a blur at first, but you soon pick up some patterns, such as the so-called honeymoon period. The child arrives and is usually compliant; curiously co-operative. Then they get to know us and our home. They relax - and express understandable sadness and anxiety. We get through those days and once the child settles the work begins for real.

Okay, yes sometimes Ryder still gets steamed up. Who wouldn't?  I would, anyone would. If you're a child who has been brought up in a home that is deemed unfit, well you're going to be brittle at the very least. The problem things in her home didn't begin just before  social services went in. The unfitness was in her case almost a generational problem and in my experience the problems at home besetting children who end up in care are usually in place from before the child was born. Probably long before the child was born.

That is the case with Ryder.

But. She's been with us a while now. And if she gets upset (which happens less and less) she knows to retreat to her room and come down when she feels better. Big progress on the self-awareness front, and she knows it, and is proud of herself.

Last week I went into her school because we had what is called a PEP meeting. PEP stands for Personal Education Plan. Every looked-after child is entitled to a Personal Educational Plan.

When you start fostering it's one of the first thing's that differentiate looking after a foster child from one's experience of having children of your own (if parenting your own child applies to you - it's not a criteria).

And the PEP thing is a superb thing.

The meeting is usually at the school and is attended by the school's childcare officer, my Blue Sky Social Worker, the child's Local Authority Social Worker, and the Carer.

Just go back and read that attendance rosta again; it gives you some idea of what a fantastic country we live in that so much expertise and loving care is made available to each poor mite that has to be given a breather from their real home. I'm not saying the UK is best in the world, but it's hard to imagine anywhere is better. Plenty of other countries should come over here and take a look see how it can be done. Hats off to our people.

From Ryder's last PEP it's clear Ryder has a way to go in several respects.

Ryder gets into disputes with classmates, although the school points out that the number and seriousness of the stand-offs are by no means standout; and since Ryder is in fostering her interactions are slightly more closely monitored. A pupil in care at any school has a childcare officer attached to them, and they keep a discreet eye on their clients.

There was never anything like this when I was at school, and it's a wonderful support mechanism, both for the child and for us Carers. If anything happens at school we get a phone call. If anything happens at home that the school needs to know about we know who to phone, and they know what to do.

See what I mean? The support and back-up in fostering in the UK, at this moment in time (2019), is out of this world. Thousands of young people are getting the help they need to start them on the straight and narrow.

Ryder is showing progress in English and Art. Maths is not too good, and PE is er...not a strong point.

As a child in fostering Ryder is entitled to something called a Pupil Premium. It's a sum of money set aside by the Local Authority to pay for anything special by way of eduction, so we're planning to get Ryder some one-on-one maths tuition.

See? The whole package just gets better and better.

It's important to remember that in fostering you're never alone, you've got an army behind you.

And the way it often works is that the Foster Carer is up front on the big white charger - only we don't expect a medal, the little victories are reward enough.


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