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Fostering old-hands ... what do you wish you knew when you first started?(6 Posts)
We're recently approved awaiting our first placement. So while we're waiting, I wondered:
"What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you started?"
Any tips you'd like to pass on?
The child described in the placement spiel is rarely accurately described. Even when children have been in care for years and the social workers claim to know them well. We always take the information given about a child at placement with a pinch of salt - and speak immediately to the child's school teachers, who invariably have an accurate picture of the child and their life.
Get your house rules in place and stick to them. If you say no children in your bedroom, mean it and stick to it. No rough play means no rough play.
Make it clear that baths and showers are non negotiable and happen every day - and don't pussyfoot around the issue if you have a child who doesn't like to wash. Get this rule sorted at the start when you have the 'honeymoon period'.
I naively thought, ten years ago, that a child would just sort of 'fit' into my family. In reality fostering is so all consuming that it was me and my family that had to 'fit' around each individual child
Weigh and measure kids the day they arrive. Ours gained a huge amount of weight once they ate normally, and were still on the 2nd centile when they had their medical - wish I had known what they were on arrival.
Never assume they know any self care - from wiping their own bums to brushing teeth.
YY to setting expectations on washing/bathing.
Good idea to weigh and measure. Children are supposed to have a LAC medical shortly after placement - "shortly" can be 6 months after placement! I've had a lot of children lose weight once placed and eating normally.
Similarly I always take a photo of the children very soon after they're placed (just when they're playing or something, not a mugshot!). On those bad days when you're wondering why on earth you began fostering a picture showing how much a child has changed really does spur you on.
A big thing that I WAS told when I started but which newer carers don't seem to be is "Record, Record, Record!" Write down Everything. Social workers will throw you to the lions whenever their own neck appears to be on the line - my log book has backed me up on many occasions now.
Forgot another thing - make friends with as many local foster carers as you can. Attend support groups and meet ups. I've learnt much, much more from other carers than from my support workers - from tips about caring for difficult children to what you're entitled to financially.
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