What makes a good foster carer

In previous editions the Youth Advisors have had their say on what makes a good social worker and now they turn their attention to foster carers.

The Youth Advisors were asked by Families SA for their opinions as part of the Review of Foster Care Assessment and Training late in 2008 and this is some of what they wrote.

They told Families SA that children or young people in care want stability and security through consistent care and a daily routine. They wanted to be listened to sympathetically and involved in decision making…

…carers should know about the importance of involving children and young people in decision-making about their lives.

…but not always involved in all of the detail.

There’s some things that a child doesn’t need to be involved in, for example an argument between a social worker and carer about clothing allowance or arguments between lawyers.

Practical stuff was important like access to medical care – but also fun.

Some foster parents include you in all their family stuff, especially the fun stuff, but some foster parents don’t. Young people in care, they said, need to feel that it’s not being done just for the money.

Carers, the Youth Advisors thought, needed to have a knowledge of child development and safe caring practices and to understand trauma, attachment and mental health issues that might arise for young people in care. They needed to know how to support and maintain cultural ties.

A carer should be prepared to learn about the child’s culture in order to support that child’s connection with their culture and heritage.

Family based carers should be happy and stable and welcome the child into their home.

The focus for someone considering becoming a carer should be on wanting to provide a home and a heart for a child who can’t live with their family.

They should have good parenting skills, including being compassionate and being focussed on the child, and be willing to help children with their education and life skills.

A carer should enable the child or young person to continue with activities that they were doing before coming into care that were positive and contribute to their development, for example, family birthday and cultural celebrations.

The Youth Advisor’s input was presented to the reference group on family based care by Families SA Principal Social Worker Alisa Marshall who relayed back the reference group’s thanks for ‘an extremely valuable contribution’.

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