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Planning Ahead for Transitions in Foster Care


This blog entry is a continuation of our previous post, 'Coping with Transitions in Foster Care'.


During our support group meeting, we also had a lengthy discussion about placements starting or ending and between us, came up with many items for attention, useful for when welcoming a child into your home or, through communicating important information to new carers, easing the transition for them when saying goodbye.

This could be viewed as a go-to list to help you discuss and prepare for the important areas that a young person will need particular support and help with during a transition. Combined with the considerations noted in our previous post, a thoughtful approach to these areas should help you and the child you care for cope with difficult transitions:



Basic Information

Name

  • The child's full name, correct spelling and pronunciation

  • Preferred name (to be used by carers), nickname (used by others)

Age

  • Chronological age

  • Emotional and educational age

  • Birthday

  • Are adjustments needed based on age, e.g. car booster seat, window restrictors, safety gate etc.

Gender

  • Sex, gender identity and sexual orientation

  • Ask agency staff for resources/advice/training if required

Sibling Pair or Group

  • Do they need their own room? Are there bedroom share options?

  • What are the current relationship dynamics?

Welcome Book

  • Liaise with agency support staff to ensure this is up to date and sent to the child’s social worker as soon as possible

BACKGROUND

Where From

  • Is the child new to foster care?

  • Are they moving from residential?

  • Are they moving from a placement with another foster carer? Why did this arrangement end? Are there any areas to avoid and why?

Why and How Long in Foster Care?

  • What is the reason for Local Authority intervention? (neglect/abuse/significant event/other

  • Try to find out the chronology of significant events and placement history, as well as Life-Story

Length of Stay

  • Respite/Bridging/Short-term/Intermediate term/Long-term

  • Planned timescale in months or years if applicable. Note that different Local authorities may differ with their definitions, e.g. some define short-term as up to 6 months and intermediate as up to 2 years. Others will define up to 2 years as short-term. Be prepared for the original length of stay timescale to change as circumstances alter.

Legal Status

Care orders are typically one of the following: -

  • Section 20 (Section 76 for Wales) – Parents or guardians requesting and/or agreeing to care and support from their local authority. This is a voluntary arrangement and may be revoked at any time. Local authorities may legally challenge parents for revoking S-20 on the grounds of what is in the child’s best interest.

  • Interim Care Order (ICO) – Temporary court order before the final hearing. Consider the anticipated outcome and prepare for this to change.

  • Full Care Order (FCO) – Care order issued by the court. Local Authority share legal responsibility with parents who have parental responsibility. Lasts until child is 18 unless changed by the court.

Note that parental responsibility is not always with the parents e.g., extended or adopted family.


Food

  • Dietary requirements/Allergies/Food preferences

  • Be prepared to gradually change the child's diet if they are accustomed to eating unhealthy options

Medical Needs

  • Medication/Inhalers/Allergies/Appointments/Medical conditions/Diagnosed conditions (ASD, ADHD etc.)/Disabilities/Attachment disorder

PLANNING AHEAD

Education

  • Full or reduced timetable?/Education, Health & Care Plan?/SEN identified?/Attendance record/School location and transport options (walking, carer transport, bus, taxi), LA providing transport?/School move required? Already authorised?

  • Foster carers have a responsibility to find an appropriate school and the child’s views are critically important. If possible, there should be a choice offered and visits organised. CSW, IRO and Virtual School will likely all need to approve.

  • School run – Does it fit in with the current routine? How practical is it long-term?

Belongings

  • It can be difficult for a young person to feel settled if they don’t have all their belongings with them.

  • What are they bringing with them? Do you have room for everything, especially considering large items like a TV or a bike? Where are their belongings?

  • Is everything coming with them or are there items with other previous carers? What support do you need to get everything to your home?

  • What might they need that they don’t already have?

Contact

  • Existing or anticipated arrangements - Who with? How often? Where? Supervised? If so, by whom?

  • Are carers to provide transport?

  • History – Does the child's family attend regularly or are they subject to cancellation? Does the child show pre and/or post-contact behaviours?

Team Around the Child

  • Child Social Worker (CSW)

  • Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

  • Virtual School/School teacher/Student Services/Education Assistant(s)

  • Advocate/Personal Advisor (if over 16)

  • Find out who the team around the child consists of, get their names and how long they have been involved with the child. If anyone is a recent addition to the team, find out how frequent the personal changes have been. Aim to build positive relationships with the team

Likes & Dislikes

  • Food, snacks, drinks

  • Hobbies/outdoor activities/after school clubs/sports/leisure

Pets & Animals

  • Safe around animals? Close supervision required?

  • Are they used to being around family pets? Are they scared of any animals (past traumatic experience?)

  • Do they have pets of their own?

Support Needs

  • For both the child and carer

  • Historic and current behaviours and associated triggers

  • Behaviour management strategies for the care

  • Coping strategies for the child

  • Learning disabilities or difficulties

  • School transport

  • Support network access and communication

  • Out-of-hours agency contact and Emergency Duty Team (Local Authority) numbers

  • Baby equipment


Thank you to all of the Red Kite foster carers and staff members who shared their views and experiences to help each other and, most importantly, help young people who need support.


If you're thinking of becoming a foster carer or if you'd simply like more information, we welcome you to get in touch.

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