Statement of Purpose

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This week at Homefinding has been a productive one as well as a reflective one.  A lot of the time we go through life with one week rolling into the next, and before you know it the seasons have passed, the John Lewis Christmas ad is back on the telly and another year is about to finish.  This week at homefinding we, as a staff group have really stopped to think about what we do in our working life and why.

The end result of this, and the best part of the last year has been poured into our new statement of purpose.  The new document created by Satwinder, our director of operations, really reflects our way of doing things.

“We will create a legacy we can all be proud of. Where we elect to initiate change, we will endeavor to leave things better than we found them.”

You can find it under the about us tab on the website.

So, If you are interested in fostering, then please read it.

If you have been fostering for a while, then please read it.

Because there are times when we all need a reminder as to why we do things, and how we should strive to do things.

 

 

This week at Homefinding

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This week at Homefinding has been kick started with staff panel training.

Being on a panel or at panel are terms we assume everyone understands.  But of course, until you have been in that situation, it may mean nothing to you.

Being at panel is just about the final hurdle before becoming approved as a foster carer.  I imagine it is right up there as a nerve wracking experience.  As in, as bad as your driving test, but not quite as bad as major surgery.

The panel itself comprises of a number of professional individuals, who are foster carers, or social workers or been in foster care themselves.  They can also include health and education professionals.  They are all there with the same aim of making sure that the decision to approve you and your family as foster carers is the right one.  They are presented with all the information about you as a family in advance and they have the opportunity to talk to the social worker who collated all that information during your assessment.  They then meet you before making their recommendations and you beginning your fostering career.

Most people understand how important it is to get that decision right, and although it is a daunting experience, we try our best for you to be relaxed and the feedback we get is generally that it is not as bad as they imagined.

I have trawled the internet for peoples experiences of being at panel and found very little.  It is something we assume everybody understands.  And although we are certainly welcmoming and pleasant, I think it must feel like a job interview or a trip to the dentist.  I may hold a   We have holding a panel for new applicants here next week.  Maybe I shall ask some unsuspecting applicants to write next weeks blog.  No pressure! As if the process wasn’t daunting enough.  I will certainly get some feedback from them and their experience.

so watch this space.

 

 

Summer of Fun!

It was a busy summer both in and out the office.

Our two summer events were a great success!  The first one was a beautiful sunny day in the kent countryside making T shirts.  Lots of creative talents were put to use.  Not least by some of the carers!

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Our second event of pizza was thoroughly enjoyed by all that attended and the pizzas were delicious.  I am sure we will repeat both events and would love to hear from you if there is anything else you would like to do!

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This week at Homefinding

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This week at Homefinding, we are feeling the autumnal chill and long summer days are fast becoming a distant memory.

I often hear myself and others say, ” I will do that after the summer holidays” so now is the time we often clear out shoe cupboards and tidy the baking cupboards or craft boxes.  It is the time that we take stock of where we are. This seems to be true even if we don’t have children at school.  It is noticeable by how quiet the shops and play centers are.  It is like a new year in a way.  And maybe it could be a time to consider doing something new.  Whether as an existing carer, to endeavor to attend more training or equip a young person with a new skill.  It could be that you are not already fostering and this is the time you stop thinking about it and start that journey to doing something incredibly worthwhile.

I think this summer in 2015  is one that will be remembered for a variety of things in a world wide sense.  There have been some upsetting scenes in the media with regards to the thousands of Syrians moving through Europe, as well as the disruption to the ports of Dover and Calais.  This has increased the pressure on finding fostering families in the Kent area .

The number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the care of KCC has increased from 220 in March last year to 368 in March this year and 730 by September 4th.  That is a scary statistic, and the children from the UK  needing to be looked after by families also continues to rise.  So if you are not fostering, or if you know someone that would be good at it, then consider taking that plunge.  Very few people regret it, and before you know it, you will be saying ” I will do that after Christmas”

 

 

This week at homefinding

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For many, the summer holidays are upon us.  It is a busy time for some, a juggling affair keeping children busy and managing work both inside and outside the home.  There is pressure to have an idyllic time and create memories of long sunny days, picnics, water fights and laughter.

The reality is quite different for some. rather it is long days dodging the showers, battling boredom and trying to please everyone.  There are lots of guides out there how to survive the holidays and some people plan every day whilst others prefer to “wing it.”  For all families, it is the same challenge. It is about making the best of those days out of school, and it is all about what is right for you, and the children in your care.

Fostering is often about making similar judgements every day  about making the best of situations, whether it be disappointment around christmases and birthdays or missed contacts, frustrations taken out at school or even at home.  It is often wise to have a back up plan.  A trip to the park or an ice cream on the way home only goes a tiny way to ease the disappointment but it shows that at least you care about their hurt.

That is why it is so important as a carer to be flexible, to always be learning and to be ready for anything.  It is also why having a network of support and other carers in that network helps.  It gives you different strategies, ways of looking at situations.  SO  It might be a trivial comparison, but in the summer holidays if you have planned a picnic in the park and the heavens open, then have a back up plan.

and enjoy your summer holidays.

 

This week at Homefinding

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Do you know someone involved in fostering that has gone that bit extra?  Gone above and beyond what was expected?

As of today, the nominations are open for the fostering excellence awards, run and hosted by the fostering network.   And there is a lot of excellence in fostering.  I am sure we could all think of a moment when we have seen someone do that bit extra.  Spent that time thinking about what is best for the vulnerable child or young adult on the cusp of making a choice that could change the direction of their lives.

In the many years I have been involved with fostering, I can think of dozens of examples of families and invidiuals offering more than is expected.  We have carers who travel the country to see the children they once looked after, having made a connection that is never broken.  It is not unusual to hear tales of how they use their personal connections to get care leavers they know,  jobs, or act as guarantors on flats. They turn up with hot meals and gladly do loads of washing long after the children have become young adults and move on.  They become birthing partners and godparents, surrogate grandparents.  Sources of support and advice. And then they share the pictures of these young people graduating,and raising their own families. There is the fostering family who offer up their summer home to the mother of the children they looked after.  Giving her and her children a free holiday every year after she successfully turned her life around.  That is just one example.

But as a carer you have to be patient.  The rewards are sometimes a long time coming, because fostering is a long game.

When I was 16, my family looked after a boy the same age as me.  He had been having physical fights with his step father, not been attending school and been involved with a spell of burglaries.  Actually, he had burgled every house on his mothers street in one weekend. He was resentful of our family rules, and uncomfortable with the routines including curfews and sitting to the table to eat.  He was rude, taught us all some new words and failed to ever properly make a connection with any one in the house.  But he stuck it out, and so did we.  He didn’t burgle any of our neighbours, and he lived with us for about 18 months, He reluctantly attended college and saved up for a moped.  So when he moved on to his own flat, he had got an apprenticeship. ” Glad to be going ,” he said, ” fed up with not being able to do anything.”   It was without a backward glance he got out of my dads car. and it was with mixed emotions we watched him walk away.

Gone.  that chunk of his life we had shared. Dismissed with a shrug and a slam of a car door.

So when, 15 years later, in a supermarket, my dad was stopped by a man he only vaguely recognised, the biggest reward was about to come. The man was anonymous in his appearance. and holding the hand of a tiny minature version of himself.  He introduced himself and you never forget anyone that shares your home, or their story.  No matter how brief.

“I was happy when I lived with you, you know. I didn’t forget what you did to me.”

My parents had made a difference to that persons life and to the choices they made as an adult.  It might have been well hidden at the time but they never stopped believing that one day he could be the best he could be.  Their patience and unwavering commitment to him had paid off.  They gave extra in that they didn’t give up.

 

Do you know someone that has gone that bit extra?

 

This week at Homefinding

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Tomorrow is one of our ever popular mentor led workshops.  This time it is looking at basic counselling skills.

Mental health problems affect about one in ten children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

The emotional well-being of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

A lot of our young people access mental health services and it is important that as foster carers are able to support and understand this,

It should give a valuable insight into what to expect.

 

http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/aboutnhsservices/mental-health-services-explained/pages/about-childrens-mental-health-services.aspx

As well as this, we are having out fostering standards workshop on wednesday and the support group are meeting on Thursday.

This week at homefinding

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This week at Homefinding, sees us take a bit of a deep breath following foster care fortnight.

It was quite an intense week for many of us in the office as we spent a lot of time thinking about the children still in need of new homes as well as trying to persuade individuals and families to do something worthwhile and consider fostering.  On a personal note, it has made me quite reflective.

I fall into that category that a lot of people fall in to, in that, I have thought about fostering.  I also fall into that group of not doing anything about it.  My experience with fostering is quite varied.  I grew up in a fostering family and now work for the Homefinding and Fostering agency in a variety of roles.  I have always thought that one day I might become a foster carer but there always seems to be a reason not to.  Initially I thought my children were too young, I have had four, so there was always one of them that was too young.

Then I thought my husband wasn’t as committed to the idea of it, he didn’t have any real experience of knowing what it was like have other children in your home. Then I didn’t have a spare room.  One of my sons wasn’t sure, I didn’t have the time, I didn’t want to give up my job.  It went on and on.  My children are now much older with the oldest two preparing to go to University.  I do have a spare room and my husband is interested.  My job is flexible and part time and I can not honestly think of any reason not to.

I have spent the last two weeks trying to convince people like me who are thinking about it, to do something about it.  And I know that all the reasons that I have highlighted aren’t barriers to fostering.  They are excuses.  So why havent’t I done anything about it.  I am not sure to be honest.  I am a bit of a worrier and I worry about how resilient my children would be.

But maybe the time is right for me to take it further.  Maybe you know somebody like me and just need that bit of encouragement to make that phone call.  Because the reality is we need more people to take that plunge.  Very few people who foster, regret it.

This Week at Homefinding

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It is week two of foster care fortnight! And what a busy first week it has been,  We have thoroughly enjoyed all of our short films made specifically for Homefinding and we are so grateful for everybody who has been here at the offices, and have had their photos taken as part of your connection to fostering.

It is amazing how many of you have contributed so look out for our full album of contributors at the end of the week.    With all the media interest in fostering this past week, we hope that more families are inspired to consider fostering. We hope that foster care fortnight continues to generally highlight the fact that so may children are in need of loving stable homes.  There are a lot of myths around fostering, and we hope to look at dispelling some of those this week.  Including how you are not too old, that you don’t have to own your own home.   You can still have a job , be in a relationship or single.

Fostering deserves to be a recognised profession, essential to the effective functionning of our society and we hope that the ongoing training we offer at homefinding is something that you can apply in other areas of life.  With this in mind, working with hostile families is on the agenda for this weeks training and we look forward to your feedback.

 

This week at Homefinding

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As part of Foster Care Fortnight, a number of carers have been asked for their connection to fostering.  As always, we are impressed with what they have come up with and it encourages us all to think about what we offer the young people that come into our lives, and just as importantly the ways they enrich ours.  Because fostering is a two way thing.  we learn all the time about how better to empathise, and use our skills and create new ones.  Look out for our face book posts over the next two weeks, the connections you have made as carers to fostering as well as a series of short films about some of the children and how they view being in foster care.

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