Why making the right match between each foster child and each foster carer is so important
Success in fostering has a great deal to do with "making the right match!" between foster carers and the children needing fostering.
Although lots of foster carers have similarities with one another and foster children have many similarities and needs in common to other children, all foster carers and children have subtle but importance differences in essence from one another. These differences are not necessarily concrete things. They may be related to differences, in values, in ideas, in hopes, wishes and dreams and in expectations arising from differences in prior life experience.
"The match between a child and their carer is right when these little differences don't add up and amount to much".
When the match is right, foster carers achieve great success, realise the rewards of fostering, and get to see children grow, prosper and develop in their good care. When the match is right, the individual foster carer will get to feel that "I have made an important difference" and that " I am doing something really worthwhile with my life".
Conversely a bad match can be serious. If there are lots of negative differences or points of tension between a child and their carer, , these can easily add up and generate the sort of feelings that make caring and living in foster care a much harder task to manage for everyone.This is not surprising. Nor rocket science. We are all different in some ways. In real life, some of us may really dislike some things that are not any sort of an issue for other people. Some things can press a carer or child's buttons but not another. There is human nature in this.
This means that all of our staff involved in placing children with you, have to be careful and skilled "in matching". And, I am pleased to report, we most definitely are!
How we match the right children with the right foster carers
Being careful in the matching means:
- We always seek the maximum information on each child to be placed
- When the information provided about a child is limited, we dig for more, from a range of sources
- During the process of approving our foster carers we work to get to know them well and to develop the sort of good trusting working relationships that successful fostering depends upon.
- We organise the part of our service which deals with the matching and placement of children with carers services so that all of the staff know each and all of our foster carer as well as possible
- We share full information about children with carers in the process of considering the match
- We listen carefully to what our foster carers say and to their ideas about what they can do well and perhaps not so well.
- We carefully plan the support that we provide so that it is tailored to meet the needs of the specific situation and to build on the strengths of the carer whilst developing their skills
- We put in extra support at the start of each new placement and have an early review of how the match is working.