Supporting our foster carers... reflections of a supervising social worker
Sasha, one of our support team social workers, reflects on the difference that our foster carers, like Mary (featured in a separate blog) make to young lives...and their own
I really enjoy working with Mary; I call her my ‘ray of sunshine’ because she is always smiling, warm and welcoming. The working relationship between Mary and I is still relatively new, so we are still learning about each other, and from each other, currently. One of my favourite things about being a Supervising Social Worker is that it is a reciprocal relationship where I learn a lot from the foster carers I work with, it’s a partnership where we both celebrate successes and learn from challenges.
Coventry Fostering Team offer support in a multitude of ways. We have Supervising Social Workers, Children and Family Workers, a Foster Carer’s Support Group every second Friday of the month (10-11.30am at Woodside Family Hub) and even a Foster Carer Mentoring Scheme where experienced Foster Carers support newly approved Foster Carers or those having a particularly difficult time. We facilitate social and celebratory events for Foster Carers and their families. We offer a wide-range of online and classroom-based training. We can also signpost to services in and around Coventry that can support our children, families and Foster Carers when additional or specialist support is required.
With support from Coventry Fostering, Mary has made a positive difference for the children who have been in her care. An example would be how Mary has supported the young person from Afghanistan; Mary learnt to cook Afghani dishes, ensured he had the equipment and space to prayer, found a local Mosque and supported him to attend, finding another Mosque when he expressed that he did not like the first. Mary has supported her young person to get into school, to apply for asylum and to learn English, utilising translation apps to ensure she and the young person could communicate in the meantime. What most impressed me is that Mary attended the Foster Carer’s Support Group in an effort to find other Foster Carers who had unaccompanied minors in their care. She met two such Foster Carers and arranged for her and young person to meet with them; this meant that Mary not only extended her support network but also created a social/support network for her young person to prevent him from becoming isolated. After building up the young persons’ network, she supported him to safely gain some age-appropriate independence giving him the opportunity to attend a local youth club, go out with friends, travel to school and get his hair cut by himself.
It must be terrifying to travel to a different country all alone without your family, especially as a child. Mary has created a safe, warm environment for her young person, giving him safety, stability and boundaries and her young person reports feeling happy, safe and well cared for and is ecstatic to be in school. He has his health and other basic needs met consistently and is being supported in his legal rights. His parents and family are also reassured that he is safe.
Mary has also been able to offer a couple of children care when their carers unexpectedly needed respite. Mary tells me it makes her happy that she is able to offer young people these opportunities; one young person would have had to go to a children’s home had Mary not offered to provide respite care for them.
Fostering, like life, has many ups and downs, positives and challenging difficulties. Yet with support, everyday Foster Carers like Mary make a difference to children and young people, sometimes a tiny difference but sometimes the impact is life changing. What could be more special than that?
Foster Carers are superheroes and we need more of them.
To find out more about joining our Coventry City Council fostering community, drop your details here and we can send you a free information pack. Or give the friendly team a call on 024 7683 2828