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Meeting LO's Teacher, Medical Advisor and Foster Carer

(13 Posts)
MrsBW Mon 31-Mar-14 15:27:32


Kind of linked to IGH's thread, but we're about to have a day where we are meeting the above of a sibling group that we have expressed an interest in, in order to find out lots more about our potential LO's.

I have a list of some questions for each, but it occurs to me that this is probably the only time I'll meet their teachers/medical advisor and suddenly the questions don't seem 'enough' if that makes sense?

Italian's thread has given me some ideas to ask the Foster Carer (to add to my own) - but can I ask the adopters out there what ^you asked if/when you met teachers and medical advisors - or what, with hindsight you wish you'd asked? 'Our' LO's don't seem to have any serious medical concerns so I'd be interested to hear from others who were in a 'similar boat' (without meaning to sound flippant). They are both school age - just.

Anything you wonderful people can add to what I already have would greatly appreciated.

KristinaM Mon 31-Mar-14 16:05:26

I won't worry too much about the medical advisor, I'm assuming they are a community paediatrician so won't have any training or much experience of adoption

The teacher should be very helpful -I would just ask about what level they are working at, what support them currently have in school and about transition, which he/she will probably tell you without asking . I'm assuming the children are supported in mainstream?

Foster carers - ATM you are just trying to assess if these are the right kids for your family. So don't ask about daily routines etc, that's all for later. I'd just ask what the children are good at, what they like and the challenges they faced caring for them. FC know a lot about developmental delays but they don't think they do. They just know about what kids should normally be doing at a certain age. If you frame questions like that , you will get a lot of useful info.

Will the SW be there when you see the FC? I would try to see them alone, the SW can cramp their style a bit and make they nervous of saying the wrong thing . Don't let the slightest critical thought about the FC cross your mind -they will sense they are being judged and clam up.

It's very hard for them as they feel they are supposed to " sell" the kids to the prospective adopters when obviously they have their own view. If you are able to ascertain what their view is, it will give you a context for the rest of the information they give you.

MrsBW Mon 31-Mar-14 22:20:35

Thank you so much - that's really useful insight... Will bear it in mind.

Much appreciated thanks

crazeekitty Mon 31-Mar-14 23:04:16

The medical person I met was specifically linked to ss as were the health care professionals in my lo's life. She has a particular medical issue which we discussed in some depth. If there are no issues I would try and see fc first so anything she raises might be brought up with med examiner. If still nothing then just which percentile they are in for height and weight... Lac are often in the lower percentiles.. not that it matters in the long run of course. Also check for developmental milestones.

No advice on fc I'm afraid because ours was useless... Knew nothing.

Teacher... Friendship groups and social interaction... In addition to all of Kristina's comments

hopethisnamechangeworks Tue 01-Apr-14 10:51:21

I've (hopefully) name changed for this. We were in your position of no major health concerns.

My DH and I are both Drs. We read the medical report with interest (and knowledge!). Things that we noticed: it was massively out of date. So, definitely try and read up about development milestones before you see the FC and medical advisor. You can then compare what the FC says with things you have looked up. Just remember that 'normal' is a broad spectrum, and it is completely normal to be better at some things than others.

In our opinion, the medical advisor didn't know much about ours (through no fault of theirs - they'd seen them once, ages ago). And had got some of the family history wrong (apparently they just write down what they are told by the birth parents, and they may be told the wrong stuff. There isn't any double checking/cross referencing with GP notes or anything). In our case, something didn't add up, we asked SW, who went off and did some digging, and it was completely incorrect (due to the above).

As Kristina says, the foster carers should know loads, even if they don't think they do (and her suggestions of what to ask are ace!). People tend to be better at pointing out good stuff, so maybe specifically asking 'Is there anything you are worried about?' would be useful. We asked that exact question and got an interesting answer!

KristinaM Tue 01-Apr-14 14:10:15

Ask the FC what the children were like when they first came . This is a favourite subject , they will enjoy telling you of all the positive changes they have made to the children.

This is crucial information because it tells you about the persistence of any difficulties the children may have . For example, if they tell you that child was non verbal when they arrived aged 2, and the reports say that his speech is now delayed by a year aged 3, you can form a view about how likely they are to catch up completely . By questioning the FC you can find out about the child's comprehension, and whether the delays are in his speech or his language or both. The FC will know FAR more about this than a SALT who has seen the child once in an office for an hour to make an assessment.

I'm afraid that the onus is on YOU to learn about these things and ask the right questions. It's like buying a house -it's not in the vendors interests to present you with a list of problems or issues. you , your solicitor and your surveyor need to find out for yourselves. They can't lie if you ask them directly, but they don't need to investigate every possible problem

KristinaM Tue 01-Apr-14 14:22:01

I agree with hope re medical reports. You need to take them with a pinch of salt, unless you have reason to know the information is accurate. SW often work on Chinese whispers.

Eg. Birth mum tell FC that birth dad had diabetes. She thinks this because he had needles in his flat and he told her that's what they were for. FC tells SW that dad had IDDM. SW tells doctor. Doctor assumes that SW knows this because she has read this in another medical report. Doctor writes this in child's report and it becomes fact because doctor has written it

Eg birth mum tells SW that her mum and her aunt died of breasts cancer. SW puts in report that the child has this family history. SW has forgotten /never knew/doesn't mention that the person who brought up birth mum is actually step mum so isn't a blood relative

Generally SW have very little knowledge or understanding of medical issues but some of them think they know a lot, which makes them quite dangerous.

It's best if you can collect as many facts as you can and get opinions from elsewhere, from those qualified to make them.

KristinaM Tue 01-Apr-14 14:29:06

Remember that there is nothing magical about an adoptive placement vs a foster placement. If a child of 3 has been with a foster carer since they were 6 month old and they have significant delays, they will not go away because they are placed with you ( assuming that the FC is adequate ) .

I've seen too many SW reports that say " Johnnie has some developmental delays but we are sure he will catch up when he's with a permanent family " . No one can say that. You would be struggling to find any HCP who would make such an assertion .

OneOfOurLilkasIsMissing Tue 01-Apr-14 16:05:03

Completely agree with Kristina, I've seen the same assertions - assume that whatever difficulties the child currently has, they will continue just the same in your home.

Questions for the FC about the child, I definitely agree with "What were they like when they first arrived?" and how much progres has been made

I made a rather extensive list once for a prospective mum, based on things I asked DD2's FC's. I'll copy the relevent questions! This mum was seeing the FC of a much older boy, so ignore the 'he' throughout it, and ignore anything that's not relevent, but I suggested these kind of questions:

The worst behavior he has shown was?
And the worst his behaviour gets now is...? How often does this happen?
What does and doesn't work when trying to discipline? How does he react to discipline?
What works best at diffusing/ dealing with tantrums?
How long does a typical tantrum last? How often do they happen? What would trigger a big tantrum?
How does FC anticipate he will react to a move to adoptive parents?
What things make him angry/distressed? Can you always tell when he is feeling very stressed/distressed/angry or does he bottle it up?
Does he let himself be comforted by FC's when this happens, or not?
And conversely of course, what tends to make him feel happy and calm?
What does the FC think about the childs ability to attach and form a close relationship with parental figures?
What kind of environment does he do best in/is happiest in?
How much routine does he need? And what happens when the routine is deviated from, is he a 'go with the flow' type person, or would he react really badly to that?
How much supervision does he need every day, and for what?
How many friends does he have? Is he good at making friends? And keeping them? How does he behave around friends, and play with them? Does he get on better with kids his own age or gravitate to younger/older children? - (This will tell you things about the childs social and emotional development)
How would you describe his personality?

I asked DD2's foster mum what she thought DD's emotional age was as well.

With siblings, I'd be asking questions about their relationship with each other - how they behave towards each other, what the FC thinks of their relationship etc

Teacher -
Classroom behaviour
Behaviour compared with their peers?
Friendships from a teachers perspective, how child gets on in the playground
How their work compares to their peers, how fast they learn and how they are progressing
What support is needed in the classroom, what teacher anticipates would be needed in a new school

MrsBW Tue 01-Apr-14 19:52:49

Thank you everyone thanks, really lots of food for thought.

tethersend Fri 04-Apr-14 20:51:35

It would be useful to ask the teacher what the children's Pupil Premium is spent on, and whether this has made a difference to their progress, as this is something you may want their new school to replicate.

fasparent Fri 04-Apr-14 22:17:18

Agree with hopethis unfortunately experience and knowledge of FCs is often undermined, lots of stuff is out of date medical and social, not that its intentional more of less of experience and training in specific areas by professionals , As a foster carer of 38 years can assure this is
true you do have too do your homework as stated, also speaking for most LA foster carer's who are required too do mandatory on-going training all year round, every year., Also in our case attend training and support workshops on a monthly basic with our LA. sharing and supporting knowledge for the betterment of the children we look after.

fasparent Fri 04-Apr-14 22:36:49

Also forgot too add many many FC's were around years before these young professional's were even born and have had too adapt too areas of social changes , which can only be achieved with specific training in all areas.

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