Foster families continue to provide care in lockdown
PUBLISHED: 17:58 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:04 20 May 2020
The current lockdown has seen life change for all of us, including children in care and their foster carers.
Although children in care are very familiar with change and adapting to it, this does not make it any easier for them.
As Hackney joins the nation in celebrating Foster Care Fortnight, one Hackney-based foster carer shares her experience of adjusting to life in lockdown.
Adam and Amelia’s story
“Life has changed so much for us and like everyone, I could have never imagined how different life could be in just a short space of time,” says foster carer Amelia*, who has been caring for Adam*, aged six, since he arrived at her home almost two years ago.
As a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Adam needs good, consistent structures around him. Since his arrival, Amelia and Adam’s lives had become one of routine and repetition, which has been disrupted by the social distancing guidelines.
“At the start of the lockdown, so much of what was familiar to Adam was dropped, and it seemed we had been left with home, the local park and the car,” says Amelia. “We still have routine and repetition, but it is massively scaled down.”
After an initial pause on education at the start of lockdown due to the current pandemic, Adam now has access to school again, part-time, and his - and Amelia’s - routine has adjusted once again.
One positive to come out of lockdown, is that Adam has been able to spend the time consolidating and building more secure attachments, with Amelia and her son. “My son and I have been the constants in Adam’s life in the last two years,” she says, “and this has intensified during lockdown.
“This intense time has allowed Adam to find confidence in our relationships.”
Despite the lockdown, Amelia continues to keep Adam and her son safe and healthy, while providing a secure, stable and consistently caring home for Adam. “In some ways, lockdown has made this difficult, because as a family, we thrive on being part of a community - a ‘village’ that helps and supports us as a family unit,” says Amelia. “At times, it has been challenging for us all to continue without the community structures around us,” she goes on to say, “but we still have the support of our social workers and other professionals.”
Children in care
Children come into care for many different reasons and with different needs. Hackney foster carers are there, with the help of Hackney Children and Families Services, to meet children at their different points of need, and provide an environment in which they may flourish.
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Foster children and birth children
Many prospective foster carers worry about having their own birth children in the home and how fostering will fit in.
Having your birth children in the home when you start fostering can be an added benefit to you and the children coming into your care.
A large number of foster carers have experienced this and commented on the positive changes it has had on their children; having a foster child in their home can bring out a softer side, teaches them new skills including sharing and empathy, and enables them to understand different cultures.
Who can foster
There is no such thing as a typical foster carer, and all potential carers are assessed before approval. In line with statutory requirements Hackney Borough asks foster carers to be over the age of 21 and be able to meet the demands of parenthood, be in good health, be able to offer a secure home with a spare room and have the time to foster.
Fostering with Hackney Borough
There are many different ways to foster including short-term and long-term placements, specialist schemes such as Parent & Child fostering, Supported Lodgings – a recently new service which is a step down from fostering.
Although fostering looks different for every foster carer, they all benefit from a good support network. As a foster carer for the London Borough of Hackney, you benefit from the support of your social worker, other Hackney professionals and other foster carers.
The council also provides membership with national fostering charity Fostering Network, and New Family Social, a charity for LGBTQ+ adopters and foster carers. You also become part of a wider community of foster carers through the North London Fostering Consortium.
*Names have been changed.
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