I have wanted to write a book for more than 20 years and this year I decided to go for it after seeing Joshua Sprague’s 30 day challenge (link). So I have two more chapters to write (first draft) and I am at the stage of choosing a title. This involved putting a poll out on social media, this was an interesting experience because in doing this I have left the comfort of my known friend and acquaintance group. But then I think I felt the same when I published my first blog and later my first magazine article.
My experience of my ending as a kinship foster carer was not something I thought I was going to write a book about, I actually thought I was going to write a fictional book for the longest time. However this advert jumped out at me, as if my soul said, come on its time. I had my usual concern about spending money, I didn’t know who Josh was. Well google him then. I followed his coaching and by day 2 I had my book idea. I spoke to a few friends about their gut reaction to the book idea and ran with it. One friend said she hadn’t heard of the term ‘kinship foster carer’ before and after we spoke she turned on the TV to hear a reporter say that very term. She text to say it was a sign. Its actually signs that I wanted to write about, but not yet, not now.
Help me choose the title by voting on your prefered title or suggest your own
Book idea: I am writing a book for Kinship (Family) Foster Carers dealing with an end of placement (e.g.social services decide to place the child/family member else where) to get to a place of healing so they can engage with life afterwards.
I have had some amazing feedback from people and tried to include their various suggestions and made changes to the initial book title ideas before putting them out to a wider audience. There is a clear winner forming but I am still working with other people’s suggestions, e.g. not wanting certain words due to certain reasons. One of the things that did strike me from the feedback, even though it is a role I have done and those people feeding back do know me, that it wasn’t a term everyone understood. Which I wanted to address now.
Kinship Foster Carer was my title, and on a CV thats what I put down when seeking a job afterwards. The Fostering Network describe kinship as follows:
“Kinship care is when a child who cannot live with their birth parents is looked after by extended family members or others with whom they have a relationship. Most kinship carers are related to the children they look after, and the majority are grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings or other family members.
Some kinship carers look after children on an informal basis, although some apply directly to the court for an order to grant them parental responsibility.
The child welfare system may become involved in making arrangements for the child to be looked after by someone within their extended family or social network. Occasionally people with a different connection (such as a friend, neighbour, teacher) step in or are asked to care for a particular child.”
There are many differences, in my personal experience I was ‘out of area’ which translated to not being able to attend supportive courses or get togethers with other foster carers and I couldn’t attend those in my county instead (due to different budgets). Certain social workers would challenge my not doing courses and said it was compulsory I attend a course and I would ask, ‘how do I attend a course starting a 9 am an hour and a half away, when I am taking the child you have given me to look after to school, and how am I picking them up?’ I was single, and I didn’t have family support so there was noone else to ask. Which highlights more differences, usually foster carers are a couple and they have their family and friends around them, if not they are in the local area so can attend supportive events. My family was dysfunctional, so there was no support. My estranged father and I who went into fostering my niece together initially lasted two years together before I had to go it alone and a short while later weren’t on speaking terms. I had moved so many times that I didn’t have those lifelong friendships I had created whilst I was at school. Those friends lived in different parts of the country.
When a child is placed with you, its called a placement. You have the option of making things more permanent with ‘guardianship’ which social services were pushing for. I was advised against this by a solicitor who highlighted that in two years time social services would withdraw the financial support. He continued that as they had made the decision to take the child from the mother, it was now their responsibility. There was also the added issue of the child’s father leaving prison at some stage in the next few years in which it was also advisable to have their support to manage this. So this meant, social services made the parental decisions. When my niece began running away from home, on the third time they ‘ended the placement’ without a disruption meeting – the meeting is standard practice for foster carers. In plain English, they were now taking my niece away, didn’t feel a need to discuss with me and didn’t have to tell me where she was going next. ‘Foster carers wouldn’t know’ I was told. But kin are not foster carers, they are family. When social services leave her life, I will still be her family.
This highlights another difference. When a placement is ended, career foster carers are offered another child and their income continues. I was immediately jobless, and in my case because I hadn’t been able to keep working part time when my niece was paralysed for a short time I had nothing else to fall back on. All eggs in one basket. I had a week’s notice, which I was quite shocked at, but was told ‘it’s all in the fostering handbook’. The consequence as you may have gathered was then losing my home as I had no income. I was resourceful enough to fund a calendar months notice on the flat because I sold my furniture and found a room to stay in for 6 months. So any emotions had to wait until I was out of the practicality of sorting out the basics. So although my book may be helpful for foster carers, it is specifically for kinship carers, like me, who maybe feel they have very little support.
“It is estimated that there are 200,000 children being brought up by family members or friends – that’s three times the number of children in foster care – and it is increasing.
“But that’s just how the story unfolds You get another hand soon after you fold”.B.o.B
Facing the Future
Of course Ill have examples of my own experiences with social services and foster support in the book, but its really about offering guidance to others going through a difficult ending from all I gained from my own counselling and whilst training to be a counsellor. Counselling theories that are simple to understand and implement, not just for me, but for those I went on counsel in primary care. It includes my learning from shamanic practitioners and spiritual development mentors. And as you can expect from me wisdom from my animal friends, particularly from equine herds I was lucky enough to spend time which all coincided with the end of placement and life afterwards.