How do we support a child’s wishes for contact with former caregivers?

When we asked our Charter Champions to tell us how well children’s wishes for contact with former caregivers were supported we got a range of opinions spread fairly evenly from ‘Always’ to ‘Never’.

What do we mean by ‘support’ and what kind of contact is desirable or possible?

Some children form strong bonds not only with their carers but also with the carers’ children and other family members.  Which of these relationships should be supported and how much emphasis put on that versus, say, contact with birth family?  Where the care has been provided through a commercial agency, the continuation of relationships with carers is discouraged.

The child’s new carers may have opinions about a child maintaining relationships with previous carers which may have to be recognised.  Is it more likely for a child to settle more rapidly into a new placement if ties to the old one are severed or is the maintenance of old relationships to be prioritised?

The child’s worker and new carers may be particularly active at the time of a placement change ensuring that the practical elements of the change are put in place such as schooling.  How much effort can and should be devoted to addressing the loss of a loved former carer or their family?

How can we manage other considerations that may over-rule a child’s preferences such as safety or the practical issues of great distance?

Please comment and your comments will be posted after a brief period for moderation.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m not sure if this survey or results takes into consideration the Youth Workers from Residential care maintaining contact with the young people once transitioning has occured?
    I believe this is something that seriously needs to be looked into. We as Youth Workers are discouraged from continuing contact with YP after the initial transition period. It would be good to have a guideline and professional advice as to whether or not is is appropriate for YP to be allowed to have phone contact or to po over for a coffee at an appropriate organised timeect with ex Youth Workers. As i believe this is something that is extremly important for the young people, not only emotionally but also socially as we do have a huge part in their lives.

  2. Thanks Sarah. You have hit on a very real and live dilemma for youth workers and social workers. It would be great to hear from others on this topic.

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