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MESSAGES TO FOSTER CARERS


Important information for future foster carers


  • Your motivation to become foster carers tells us that you are humane, open and ready to learn and to change yourselves. This is an excellent way to develop your competences as foster carers through exchanging experiences with other foster carers, ask for help and support from experts, participate in educational programs for foster carers, use manuals and other forms of educational material.
  • Difficulties and problems are integral part of raising children, no matter whether you are a parent or a foster carer. They are normal and expected. This does not mean that you are lacking competences. Having competence means that a person is able to recognize the problem, work on solving it and also being able to seek help.
  • Seeking for help and support in a timely fashion is a characteristics of a competent foster carer.
  • When you become a foster carer, your family will need to become open for communication and cooperation with large number of people. Being a responsible foster carer means that a person is capable of cooperating with other people in order to work towards the same goal, which is obtaining the benefits for the child a foster carer has accepted into his/her family.
  • Foster carers have the right to receive support because this right is derived directly from their responsibility for a child to advance while in foster care. When you get to know the child and his/her needs, seek for some guidance from experts regarding the services you can use in your own surroundings and to what extent those services can be available to you.

 

 

  • Make the child feel welcome
  • Allow the child to say goodbye – to say goodbye to those people he/she is leaving;
  • Give the child some time to become free in discussing his/her feelings – both to children in foster care and your own children;
  • There are no fast corrections of misbehaviour, but you can overcome the problems by providing home and family atmosphere, understanding and patience;
  • Call counselor for foster care without any hesitation, his/her task is to provide help to you.

 

 

  • Crisis is not an exclusive experience. It is an integral part of every life, but it is also a chance for development and progress. The most difficult problems can enrich us for new challenges and they can make us strong once they are solved.
  • Foster care represents support to the child’s family. This is the reason why foster carers can be the people who have the ability to cooperate with child’s parents.
  • Do not speak in a negative way about child’s parents and do not judge them in front of the child because he/she will most likely misinterpret that the bad message is also pointed his/her way.
  • Shaken trust of a child regarding the well-intentioned advice can be regained within the stimulating family surroundings. Therefore, it is important that foster carers maintain functionality of their own family so they can be able to help the child in foster care.  

 

 

  • There are some basic specifics in developmental periods (ages). But, there are also big individual differences among children of the same age;
  • There are completely usual differences among children of the same age, among boys and girls, among children growing up in different social and cultural environments, among children with or without certain traumatic experiences.
  • A child should not be exposed to hard tasks during certain periods and it should not experience additional burden on his/her development;
  • A child should gain trust in his/her own abilities, it can be achieved by encouraging his/her independency, courage, persistence and perseverance, but always bear in mind that child’s individuality should be appreciated;
  • What is hard for one foster parent is not necessarily hard for another.

 

 

  • Talk to the child about everything, especially about things concerning him/her personally, listen carefully to the child and appreciate what you are being told, because this is the safest way to understand his/her needs and build the relationship based on trust and closeness.
  • Help the child to learn how to express his/her needs loud and clear, make sure to be vocal about his/her rights to do so, and that you approve this, but teach the child how to be responsible for his/her own rights as well as others’.
  • Bear in mind that the child is learning the most from you and that it will certainly be confused if you tell him/her to deal with the needs and rights of others in a certain way, and you act differently.
  • When you are not sure how to respond to some of the child’s questions regarding his/her rights, consult the experts or other foster carers, seek adequate literature abouth children’s rights, and encourage child to look for the answers with you.
  • If the child is in school, in contact with other children or in any other situation exposed to any kind of discrimination because he/she is “different”, use all your energy to protect him/her and teach him/her to be able to protect himself/herself.
  • If the child is a part of events or activities where some other child is being discriminated due to his/her differences, be sure to react and explain to the child why this type of behaviour is unacceptable.
  • Teach the child how to use skills of non-violent communication with others and how to find constructive ways to solve conflicts, because this is an excellent way to understand his/her own rights as well as those of other people.

 

 

  • Include the child in the process of making important decisions within the family, by listening to his/her opinions, teach him/her how to listen to others.
  • Do not peek inside child’s journal or a scrapbook without his/her permission, never eavesdrop… Every child is entitled to his/her privacy, and if you are concerned about something, always offer sincere and open talk about the issue. 
  • If you are fostering a child whose background is different than yours, treat not only the child with respect but also his/her culture and background, because the child will only then believe that he/she is accepted as a member of your family.
  • Never make a negative comment about child’s parents or relatives in child’s presence, because even though you may think you are right, basically you are actually violating several children’s rights.
  • Provide support to the child to express freely his/her need to see his/her parents or relatives. Even in situations when the parents are deprived of parental rights due to neglecting their responsibilities. The right to have contact with parents remains the right of the child.
  • Together with the child, introduce family rules that can be applied to all family members, while respecting the needs and rights of all members. This is an excellent way for a child to learn about responsibility.
  • By respecting the rights of the child and his/her opinions does not mean that adults are transferring their own responsibilities on a child.
  • Encourage child’s independency in the process of acquiring life skills, by teaching him/her how to use pocket money, by providing information about important things (dangers in cases of drugs misuse, sexual transmitted diseases, healthy lifestyles, etc.), because all of this has a lot to do with child’s rights.

 

 

  • Show interest to gain knowledge and learn about child’s rights together, read through the Convention and discuss. This will certainly be interesting and useful both for you and the child.
  • Play is something easily accepted by the child and also it is the fastest way for a child to learn. Be imaginative and offer a child some kind of game to learn more about rights and responsibilities. This will be helpful, especially in cases of younger children.
  • Finally, if some definition regarding child’s rights seems to you like it is a modern and useless novelty, think about the child’s need behind it but also think about your own responsibility regarding that need.
  • Provide the child sufficient amount of time to make important decision.
  • Do not be too judgemental and negative regarding previous experiences of the child;
  • Do not criticize parents of the child or child’s friends even when the child does it;
  • A child has divided loyalty;
  • Allow a child to speak openly about the losses in the time when the child wants it.

 

 

  • Ask for help from child’s parents, they want that, and they can help you create a family tree, provide information about brothers and sisters, place of birth…
  • Gather old photos and enjoy in them together with the child, make a special photo album.
  • Take a map to show the child his/her place of birth;
  • Together with the child, visit his/her place of birth;
  • Contact or visit former friends, neighbours, relatives familiar to the child;
  • Visit former family or home where child used to stay;
  • Keep child’s drawings, poems, work of art and write the date on them;
  • Keep favourite toys, items or clothes of the child, or in other words, do not throw away anything without previously consulting with the child, even in cases when things are worn-out;
  • Make videos or photos about child’s life;

 

 

  • Encourage positive behaviours that will help the child to gain his/her own sense of self-control. In order to achieve this, they need to be patience and persistence. Not only the words from foster carers, but also their deeds help.
  • Be wise and realistic regarding the things you want your child to learn. Do not expect for a child to have the skills of an adult. In the teaching process the child will follow your example, because you as the role model. 
  • When the child makes the mistake, explain what the mistake was and also how that mistake can be avoided or corrected in the future.
  • Praise your children, praise them for expressed intention, invested effort, and achieved result. Children will change their behaviour more quickly when praised instead when they are punished. Therefore, try to praise them as often as possible, and also try to use less prohibitions like “no”, “you mustn’t”, or “you can’t”. 
  • Be consistent. Do not give in to child’s pressures and phrases “just only this one more time”, because by doing so, you are telling your child that you are not actually thinking what you are saying and that you are not saying what you are thinking and that it is perfectly fine if the child does not respect the rules and boundaries previously set.
  • No matter what the child had done, never punish him/her by depriving him/her from love, by throwing away the favourite toy, humiliating or depriving from food or sleep. If you want to for a punishment to be reciprocal and with a fine line between cause and effect, then you should punish certain act – behaviour, and not merely the child. 
  • Most parents knows that punishments such as beating, taking away the pocket money, or banning a child from going out, are not efficient in the long run.
  • Most parents use punishments because of personal experience and lack of knowledge regarding any other way, but child in most cases doe not know that the parent is beating him/her because he/she does not know any other forms of punishment. Instead of that, the child thinks that he/she is beaten because he/she is bad. 
  • Physical punishment or beating are not “regular” punishment because they leave deep scares that can last for a very long time.

 

 

  • Children can learn how to protect themselves from being abused, and they should be taught that;
  • While the children are very young, they require more engagement from foster carers; 
  • Never leave babies and small children at home alone, not even in cases when they are sleeping;
  • Babies and small children should not be left alone in bathroom; 
  • Never leave small children at home alone at night;
  • If children are left alone at home during the day for a short while, give them strict instructions of what to do in case of any problem (who to turn to, what phone number to use, how to protect themselves…). 
  • Everything dangerous such as chemicals, medicine, weapons, must be out of children’s reach;
  • Never “dare” children, do not think that by forbidding the child to touch something or to do something while you are away, will actually be like you said. To a child, this can seem like a provocation;

 

 

  • Talk to children about secrets, teach them that bad secrets should not be kept away: for example, the secret regarding a surprise birthday present is ok to be kept, but it is not ok to keep a secret in cases when an adult asks from a child to keep a secret regarding a kiss, hug or touching. In that case, keeping a secret is a bad thing and that kind of secret should never be kept.
  • Teach your children which parts of their bodies are private and no one should touch them there (parts covered by the bathing suit); 
  • Teach children when they are allowed to say “NO” and to run away from unpleasant situations;
  • Do not force children to hug or kiss relatives and friends if they do not want to; 
  • Pay attention if the children discuss games they do not like or if they are bothered by someone;
  • If the child uses computer, control the webpages that are visited, what kind of movies the child watches or TV program that the child follows – talk openly with your children about the bad effect of certain programs; 
  • Talk to your child how to behave in certain provocative situations (if they get lost in the shopping center, if someone puts a hand on their knee, if an unknown person offers a present or a lift, if an unknown person wants to kiss the child and the child does not want to be kissed…) 
  • Always find enough time to listen to your child and to help him/her to express and recognize his/her own feelings.

 


 Collection of works: Foster care chalenges at the beginning of XXI century
 The rights of the children and foster carers