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Five Rivers News & Updates
Fostering in Education
Since Five Rivers began its work with looked after children in 1989 it has always provided an education support service for those needing remedial help. In the Farringdon Centres the school has engaged in the Achievement for All initiative and experienced a great benefit in improving the outcomes for children who are both looked after and challenged in PRU's (Pupil Referral Unit) where they may be unable to attend for various reasons.
Five Rivers can be proud that the Farringdon Centres have made the most of this initiative. This has led to a widened curriculum and is being developed into an education outreach service. Over time as an increasing number of children are fostered – some children still struggle to manage in school, even sometimes in PRU's.
The experience of foster carers of trying to manage complex behaviours without even a school to partner them on their journey can put them under huge strain.
"The loss of learning opportunities and lack of exposure to other adults and children can be developmentally critically important in addition to their educational needs not being met" Pam McConnell, CEO, "this is why we have always seen education services as an integral part of our service."
In Five Rivers Fostering our carers can access the support of our Virtual School Head (VSH) who works across the organisation to provide information and guidance on dealing with local issues arising in school. Where necessary Five Rivers VSH can begin liaising with the VSH in the local authority responsible for the placement so they can ensure proper support and planning for educational placements take place.
This can include supporting maintaining education placements even where there may be some travel time involved.
"A recent survey by The Fostering Network of London's foster carers (March 2014) highlighted a need for greater information and support with children's education. For example, 41% of respondents said they only partially understood Key Stages, 58% were unsure or unaware of the role of a Virtual School Head, and 40% felt teachers did not understand the foster carer role." (Community Care, 2014.)
Five Rivers has been exploring how to train foster carers and residential staff to be an at home teaching support assistant. Many adults had less than happy times at schools themselves and may have mixed feelings about dealing with 'authority figures' when there are difficult issues to resolve, they can feel uncomfortable when professionals talk in yet another language to talk about the child they are caring for. Being able to encourage children to do their homework, to encourage activities rather than gaming on computers are all important parts of being a foster carer and educator. "Central to the programme is the concept of foster carers as 'first educators'.
It's widely accepted that our family can have a significant influence on our education, and so for the vast majority of children in care this responsibility will be taken on by their foster carers." (Community Care, 2014) Training foster carers and helping their own children understand the importance of education is a supportive way of exploring issues that arise within education systems, including bullying, feelings of isolation and dislocation. This can apply to children who foster just as much as those who are fostered. Both sets of children are experiencing many conflicting expectations and may need extra support to be able to cope.
"Sometimes our carers need to be able to talk about their worries about their own children and how they are coping in education – or not.
Our VSH speaks to the carers at training and support groups and can be contacted directly if they want to talk through a problem about their own children. This can make the difference in helping to re-stabilise a placement where parents become anxious that it is the process of fostering that might be causing the challenges" says Pam McConnell. Article: Foster carers need to be seen as the 'first educators' of children in care. Lisa Belletty is the manager of London Fostering Achievement, run in partnership with Achievement for All and has been funded by the Mayor of London through the London Schools Excellence Fund. You can find out more or register an interest on the programme's website.
Do you know a foster carer who is a Hero?
Five Rivers Child Care is sponsoring a local hero prize as an award being given by Spire FM radio station and the Salisbury Journal in the South Wiltshire and West Hampshire area. It is the 12th year of the awards being presented and the first time for the foster carer award.
The nominations have to be in to Spire FM by October 1st and can be done very easily by going to their website at www.spirefm.co.uk and click on the ‘nominate here’ star – please help us to get recognition for not only a great foster carer but also for the immensely important task of caring for children who need a caring family to help them have a better childhood.
By participating in our local community awards we are also helping build a resilient and rewarding environment in which everyone can do better. We all like to be appreciated and we want to show we notice when people step up and help children where others can’t or don’t. So, get thinking….who do you think deserves to be nominated? Click through today!
Home Truths The state of independent residential child care 2014 – a report on the currently depleted and undervalued state of residential child care in the UK.
Can residential child care survive as a coherent and meaningful service for children who are vulnerable and need care and a whole environment geared to working through their problems? This is a report drawing on research commissioned by ICHA – the Independent Children’s Homes Association and written by Jonathan Stanley, Chief Executive. It drew upon the experience of 500 members of the association who have commented on the prejudice against the children’s residential service sector.
This is leading to patchy coverage where there is a conflicting need for local services but without committed funding, an intermittent specialist provision which is under-funded, against a back-drop of changing health and education provision and budget holding leaving children without a coherent point of contact enabling a service to respond to the child’s needs.
Everyone needs to understand that a residential setting can be a meaningful and positive experience for children and teenagers. When should residential care be considered a positive choice for a child or young person?
When their families hope to have them home and they don’t want to be felt to be estranged from their families; when they want to stay with their siblings in a place they feel safe and can be cared for and their experience of chaos, abuse and neglect isn’t overwhelming as it might be in a family – or where in addition to being in care they have to deal with the loss and separation from their siblings – it’s far easier to start to make sense of it all when you at least have your siblings there; when the behaviour they exhibit is challenging and persistent and exhausting – a team are far more likely to be able to cope and help change become possible; when expertise is needed daily to manage certain conditions or special needs with oversight by experts within the team setting or home environment; where back-up might be needed quickly; where there are complexities to be managed like court cases, safety regarding contact, to name a few.
Why do we think it’s ok to be putting these stresses on to a family that has said they will help care for a child? What impact does this have on them and their family?
Residential Child Care needs to have a place amongst the range of provision available to children. It needs to be understood and planned for. It has to be paid for. It needs a dedicated work force who are trained to care with hearts and minds and to grow management and leadership fit for the task.
Read the report here: http://www.icha.org.uk/uploads/files/icha_report_final_v3_1.pdf
Adopted Children are entitled to the Pupil Premium through schools
The government is helping financially recognise that children who have been adopted need a similar level of support as children who are fostered…this may mean that creative schools can spend some of this on providing the additional support pupils need. This can be in school or external to the school where education focused group work, counselling, behavioural support may also be of help in improving results with children who find their experiences of growing up in another family can be confusing.
Centre for Social Justice – Enough is Enough
This report bravely puts in front of our faces the evidence for the failures in two of our most critically important services for protecting vulnerable children: child protection and child mental health services. Both are over-stretched and under-resourced and while there are a few crumbs of comfort that there is good practice in some places far too often the services fail those children they should serve.
The report itself speaks of systemic issues within statutory services. It talks of children slipping through the net.
The interface between the statutory and voluntary sectors – overlooking the role of the independent sector entirely.
Their previous reports Couldn’t Care Less (2008) about the experiences of children in the looked after system and Completing the Revolution: Transforming mental health and tackling Poverty, (2011) show that still not enough has changed.
When will Enough be Enough?
Read the report which at over 400 pages is devastatingly long or at least the Executive Summary at Pages 9-14.
Kid’s Company and Camila Batmangeidjh Having put children’s safety and vulnerability at the heart of the governments children’s services agenda Kid’s Company have launched the See the child – change the system campaign. We can only admire their tenaciousness in putting their heart into working with vulnerable children. Use this link to get to their website and read more about their campaigns – now in London and Bristol.
Transforming lives and changing futures'
Nurture home with education for 7-11 year olds, Leeds.
Five Rivers is pleased to announce that Fountain House, Leeds, (Ofsted rating "Good") is re-opening on 7th August 2014 after complete refurbishment and redesign based on our 25 years' experience and following consultations with regional local authority colleagues who have identified a need for more placement options for younger children.
More than a children's home and DfE registered school (key stages 2 and 3) Fountain House will provide a safe, nurturing and enriching sanctuary which will reclaim childhoods and act as a therapeutic bridge to restore children to their full potential. Our psychotherapists, experienced manager, residential care team and education staff will use a model of trauma and attachment informed practice and work in an integrated way with colleagues in our Fostering service and in the local authorities.
We will help children through re-parenting to heal and recover from their traumatic experiences and work towards a placement with Five Rivers' own highly-supported and specially selected and trained foster carers. Children who will be suitable for the service will be identifiable through a pattern of breaking down foster placements - we aim to provide the right placement first time and next time.
Children will be aged between 7 - 11 years old on admission and there will be indications of behavioural and emotional difficulties as a result of complex trauma (attachment or trauma symptoms). Fountain House will open on the 7th of August but please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place on our open day which will be held before then.
Five Rivers Child Care is a social enterprise and has achieved 25 years of partnership with local authorities.<
Trauma & Attachment informed practice for children in residential & foster care
Community Care Live (May 2014) Presentation by Richard Cross & Linda Moss
Five Rivers Child Care attended Community Care and gave a talk on Trauma and Attachment informed practice for children in residential and foster care. It was felt to be so helpful that it was repeatedin the afternoon and generated many questions from practitioners.
When a child has been abused and neglected they have often suffered physical trauma directly or by witnessing it with others and we now know that this impedes their physiological development and their brain capacity - theysuffer emotional and physical developmental delays and have problems with learning.
Foster carers and residential staff at Five Rivers are being trained on an ongoing basis as research informs our practice, to help work with the traumatised child. In addition a child will often have problems with poor attachment, the two making each other worse. Our work helps us identify the types of help a child needs while they are in placement and gives us 'every day' ways of working - even by the non-professional therapist.
This being part of the professional therapeutic team is what helps Five Rivers get results for the children they care for. It is part of what makes our carers commit to above and beyond what many will do.
Five Rivers challenges the local authorities to make commitments to their children's placements to allow sufficient time to work with the children and make a real difference.
Where there are good partnership relationships this has really benefited the children in their residential and fostering placements. We have excellent successes in placements lasting well despite being sorely tested.
Understanding Complex Trauma
By Richard Cross, Head of Practice Development
Children and young people in the “looked-after” sector are frequently dealing with issues related to complex trauma. This needs to be understood and held by those seeking to work therapeutically with the children and young people, and in working with the adults who care for them.
These young people will almost inevitably be dealing with separation issues, having been removed from their initial primary carers; in many cases,they may have several moves of placement before finally reaching a permanent, healthy, effective home. Indeed, there is a not insignificant number who continue “bouncing” through the system until they reach adulthood.