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Coping With Transitions in Foster Care

In one of our recent support group meetings, we discussed the topic of transitions. Transitions can bring uncertainty, anxiety and stress, especially when moving on to something unfamiliar, yet they are a part of raising children and foster care in general. We spoke about all types of transitions that happen in foster care for both carers and children. These include things like placements starting and ending, school moves, restarting school and moving onto the next stages in education, respite care and so on.

Everyone in the Red Kite family is currently or about to be affected by some kind of transition, and we all have previous experience. Getting together to talk about this topic presented a great opportunity to share our individual knowledge, improve our skills and help our newer carers manage these key moments and processes in a child’s life as well as their own.

First on the agenda was a discussion about school transitions, which affect some of our current children in placement moving to secondary schools or starting at new schools in September. We talked about the importance of structured support throughout the process, from accompanying the child on Transition Days, arranging meetings with school staff to discuss the needs and strategies, and planning for when things go wrong. Most importantly it requires a consistent message of support and regular discussions with the child to ensure their emotional preparation.

Happily, the transition process thus far has been a largely positive one for our children embarking on a new educational adventure. And this is a testament to the commitment to better outcomes demonstrated by our amazing family of foster carers!

When we think of transitions in foster care, a frequent one is a child moving in or away from your care. There are many different reasons why a foster child may need to leave your home:

  • They return to living with one or both of their parents

  • They enter long-term foster care or are adopted

  • They may move to another placement to join one of their siblings

  • They may move to a specialist care resource, such as a therapeutic placement

  • They may move because the placement has broken down and their behaviour means it’s no longer safe for them to be cared for in a family environment

  • They may be transitioning into adult life

Below we've listed some things to consider that might help with saying goodbye or welcoming a child into your home:

Consider the child's best interest

Try to put yourself in a position where you can think about what the young person may want or need from you. For example; what might they be thinking about? What might be their biggest worry at the moment? Aim to stay calm and let them know that you are there to support them.

Talk to someone

Not only are transitions hard for young people in care, but they can put a strain on you and your family. We encourage you to reach out to your support network such as your friends and family members so that you are able to safely and openly express your concerns to someone who cares. If you're a Red Kite foster carer, you could also reach out to a member of the team to discuss buddying with another foster family that could help you, or arranging a discussion during a support group.

Get as much information as possible

Sometimes the lack of clarity is what causes a lot of stress for a young person. Aim to gather as much information as possible about what is going to happen - a member of the Red Kite team is always at hand for you to speak to for further information. Once you have this information, you can also relay this to the child so that they can have a better understanding of what is happening and why.

Create a photo album to document memories

During a young person's stay with you, a good idea is to keep a photo album or similar to record positive moments, achievements and memories. It's a good way for a young person to look back on their progress and have something positive to remember if they are moving on.

Keep in touch

You can discuss with your family support worker whether it might be appropriate to keep in touch if, for example, a child in your care is moving on to another placement. This can help ease the transition of a new placement for the child and remind them they still have people around them to offer support.

Continue speaking with the team

Don't forget that your Supervising Social Worker and Family Support Worker are on hand if you need them - or anyone else from the Red Kite team. We can also offer you training and advice if you need help with something.

We hope that this information can help you when dealing with transitions throughout your fostering role. Stay tuned for our next blog post which will look at planning ahead for transitions!

If you have any questions about fostering with us, please get in touch.

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