We read an article recently that acknowledged the need to raise the status of fostering to give foster carers the recognition they deserve, something we here at the Acorns support wholeheartedly. However, we also read that foster families often feel unsupported and under-rated in the service they offer to some of society’s most vulnerable children. Due to the increasingly complex needs of children in care, foster carers can face a tough task and that’s why they need all the support and training they can get.
That’s why Foster Care Agencies like us offer an excellent training programme, some of which is mandatory. At the Acorns we also adapt our training programme to meet new demands both in terms of the changes in legislation and the needs of the looked after children in our care. At the Acorns we are committed to providing high quality, relevant subject matter that is delivered by specialist trainers who are experts in their field. For example, our clinical psychologist delivers a 12-week course exploring attachment theory based on the secure base model (more to follow on this), expounded by Kim Golding, and our Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Course is delivered by a senior consultant clinical psychologist who is an expert in this area. We believe that high quality training ultimately pays for itself in improving outcomes for our children and young people and in helping our carers to deliver this.
Alongside high quality training and development sits our Foster Carer Support Programme. At the Acorns we actively seek to recruit people willing to work with children and young people of all ages, any ethnicity, every culture and all races, believing that diversity amongst our foster families helps us to meet the requirements of our Local Authorities and the children that they place with us. Prospective foster carers are assessed for their robust family relationships, resilience, optimism and commitment to helping a child on their journey through life.
Once the family have been successfully presented to our fostering panel, they are allocated a Supervising Social Worker who speaks with them at least weekly and visits them at least monthly when they have children in place. We have regular supervision group meetings and training events and an “open door” policy for all of our carers who are always welcome to visit. There is a duty helpline available outside of office hours manned by experienced social workers ensuring that our foster families do not feel isolated or alone. Our foster families are reviewed annually and presented at our fostering panel at regular intervals to continue their registration.
The Acorns Fostering team believe that if properly trained and supported, foster families can provide the therapeutic environment within which our children and young people can begin to come to terms with their trauma and loss and grow in self-esteem and confidence, learning to thrive in the knowledge that they are unique and precious. It is the foster family that provides the secure base that every child needs and it is their ability to do this that makes our foster families so special and demonstrates that, at the Acorns, we don’t just put children in beds; we place them with foster carers who have the right skills for their individual needs.